While $600 may seem like a lot to pay to have your shoes tied, if you consider the intricate dance that our fingers do on footwear every day, it’s quite impressive that a robot can do this at all. Add to that this particular robot built by a team of five engineering students at the University of California Davis with the “tiny” restriction that they could only use two motors, and it’s actually pretty amazing.
To compensate for its limited rotational inputs, the team used one motor to drive the movements, while the other selects the action to be performed via a sliding idler gear setup. An Arduino is employed for control, and the system acts as a sort of gantry with the to-be-tied shoe sitting on a pedestal in the middle of its wooden frame.
You can see it in action in the video below, demonstrating how the mechanism lifts mirrored hooks, twists them when needed, then pulls them forwards and backwards into a bow. The machine even bested another robot constructed with the same objective from Meijo Univerisity in Japan. What’s shown in the video is actually a time-lapse of the roughly four-minute tying process, so if you’re in a hurry you still might want to tie your shoes the old-fashioned way!
[h/t: Digital Trends]