back to article You've think you've heard it all about automation in technology? Get a load of this robot that plugs in cables

An MIT team has built a robot that can plug cables into jacks. That may sound effortless, yet it’s a tall order for machines. Humans typically have nimble fingers, a keen sense of touch, good eyesight, and years of experience fighting USB and headphone cables to untangle cords and place plugs into sockets correctly. A robot …

  1. JetSetJim


    The ultimate test. Does it try it one way with no success, rotate 180° and try again and fail, then rotate again and succeed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: USB

      Does it get bonus points for swearing & threatening the cable/computer with a grisley death? Or is that part of the Turing test now?

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: USB

      Or can it tell a Mini USB, Micro USB, and USB-C cable and port apart?

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: USB

        And _which_ USB-C cable? Just because a cable will physically go into a socket doesn't mean it will work, or is a good idea (as one student in my high-school chemistry class found out when idly inserting a paperclip into the lab bench power outlet).

    3. Persona Silver badge

      Re: USB

      I normally average 4-5 so if it "could" do it in just 3 ..... wow. Progress.

    4. maffski

      Re: USB

      To be fair it was the USB A socket that finally proved the existence of 720 degree quantum spin.

    5. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: USB

      My octopus can do that single handedly.

      Icon, because penguins are also wet. USB is just 5 Volt, what can go wrong?

  2. Cranky_Yank

    Do not bend, spindle, or mutilate

    I don't like the sound of we will explore more complex deformable objects like fabrics, clothes, fruits, which can result in extensive applications in elderly care, hospital nursing, housework performing, fruit harvesting because I may be in a care home someday and as a deformable object I wouldn't want a fruit picker or clothes folder rolling up to my bed one morning.

    1. beaker_72

      It's been done

      Glasgow University produced a robot that could sort and fold clothes 5 years ago:

      A message to our friends across the pond - do keep up!

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: It's been done

        Dexterous robot gets to grips with folding clothes

        By Ken Macdonald BBC Scotland Science Correspondent

        Ken Macdonald (or possibly his colleague who subbed the story) should have a word with the BBC Scotland Spelling Correspondent. The robot is repeatedly referred to in the story as "Dextrous Blue".

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: It's been done

        That's nothing. The Russians have developed a robotic civil servant. 'She' helps with issuing certificates to testify that people have a clean criminal record and no record of drug use - no mention of use of lethal force in the event of non-compliance or failure to salute the picture of Dobby on the wall.

      3. Cranky_Yank

        Re: It's been done

        I'm convinced my mother had eyes in the back of her head, and now I discover that Dextrous Blue has ears in his fingers.

  3. Alumoi Silver badge

    audio jack!!!

    Now, when everybody and his dog is ditching the audio jack, they finally manage to build a robot to automate the task?

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    I'll wait

    When this guy can mount APs and patch said gear, I want one! Until then...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll wait

      I swear I read that as '... mount PAs' then remembered it's not PC to call them that.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And now we’ll never be able to stop them...

    Can’t power them off? Try to unplug them... they’ll just plug themselves back in!

  6. JDPower Bronze badge

    Now let's see it plug in a scart cable

    1. Persona Silver badge

      I once worked with a system administrator who was allegedly an ex shipyard welder. He was great but could and occasionally did plug anything into anything by applying "sufficient" force.

      1. JDPower Bronze badge

        I've broke at least two scart cables doing exactly that. Gotta be one of the most frustratingly impossible cables to plug in blind. So glad it's (mostly) dead

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