Siddharth Sanan
Robots & Machines

This Robot Reaches a Staggering 20 Meters and Weighs Almost Nothing

Meet the world's longest-reaching robot arm.

Some experts at the Suzumori Endo Lab of the Tokyo Institute of Technology have just unveiled an engineering marvel. The extremely long robotic arm is not only getting all the buzz for its ability to reach for 20 meters (65 feet) but also because it weighs so little.

Also called the Giacometti arm — named after Alberto Giacometti, a Swiss sculptor best known for his thin, lanky works of art — the robot is made up almost entirely of balloons filled with helium. Technabob reports that lightweight synthetic muscles were used by the developers in favor of the usual hydraulic joints and gas-operated actuators, taking all the more weight out of the equation. In fact, the whole machine only weighs just about 1.2 kilograms (2.5 pounds), folds very easily, and could fit in the regular car trunk.

Although obvious problems arise from its weight, like being easily buffeted by strong winds, experts have seen promise for the unusual device. They said it could be used for search and inspection operations, or transport, in situations when the use of drones isn’t practical. Further, its light weight makes its operation safer in the factory setting in the event of glitches, contrasted against the usual heavy machinery being used today.

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