Man escapes injury from knife-wielding robot

Showing extraordinary devotion to duty, a German researcher has offered his arm up to a robot with a kitchen knife in order to help develop better safety systems.

Sami Haddadin, from the German aerospace agency’s Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, and his team were investigating the effectiveness of a collision avoidance system.

They handed the robot arm a knife, scalpel and screwdriver, and let it loose on a leg of pork, a block of silicone – and Haddadin’s arm.

With the avoidance system turned off, the robot stabbed the pork and silicone with the vigor of a serial killer. But with it on, the blade penetrated just a millimeter into the meat and managed to stop short of Haddadin’s arm altogether.

The collision avoidance system is based on a series of torque and position sensors within the robot arm, and the team concluded that it effectively prevented serious injury.

While creating a knife-wielding robot is always a fun way to spend an afternoon, the team claims there’s a serious point to the research. If in future we’re going to have robots helping us around the home, they say, we’d better be confident they’re not going to slash us to ribbons by accident.

There’s a video of the knife attack, here.