A new system can reorient over 2,000 different objects, with the robotic hand facing both upwards and downwards. (Credit: MIT CSAIL)

A robotic hand system was developed at MIT that can reorient over 2,000 diverse objects with a hand facing both upward and downward, in a step toward more human-like manipulation. This ability to manipulate anything from a cup, to a tuna can, to a box of crackers could help the hand quickly pick and place objects in specific ways and locations — and even generalize to unseen objects.

This dexterity, which is usually limited to single tasks and upright positions, could be an asset in speeding up logistics and manufacturing, helping with common demands such as packing objects into slots for kitting, or dexterously manipulating a wider range of tools.

While seemingly counterintuitive, a single controller (known as brain of the robot) could reorient a large number of objects it had never seen before, with no knowledge of shape.