MIT Research RFusion Robotic Arm Lost Item
Ever leave the home only to have forgotten your keys somewhere at home, possibly in a pile of old laundry? Well, MIT researchers have come up with the perfect solution for that issue. Introducing RFusion, a robotic arm equipped with a camera and radio frequency (RF) antenna attached to its gripper. This system combines signals from the antenna with visual input from the camera to locate and retrieve lost item, even if’s completely out of view. Read more for a video and additional information.

The prototype currently relies on RFID tags, which are essentially battery-less tags that can be placed on an item and reflect signals sent by an antenna. Since RF signals can travel through most surfaces, the RFusion system is able to quickly locate the tagged item, while machine learning enables the robotic arm to automatically lock in on the object’s exact location. It then moves the items obstructing its view, grasps the object, and verifies that it’s the correct item. The camera, antenna, robotic arm, and AI are all fully integrated, which means you won’t need any extra hardware to set it up.

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This idea of being able to find items in a chaotic world is an open problem that we’ve been working on for a few years. Having robots that are able to search for things under a pile is a growing need in industry today. Right now, you can think of this as a Roomba on steroids, but in the near term, this could have a lot of applications in manufacturing and warehouse environments,” said Fadel Adib, senior author and associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Signal Kinetics group in the MIT Media Lab.

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