While the mechanical side of robotics doesn't really qualify as AI as such you have to admit that the hardware is important. In this case the breakthrough in creating a humanoid torso with amazingly dexterous fingers and hands is the use of a new type of pneumatic actuator.
The idea is that instead of piston driven actuators the pneumatic muscle works in roughly the same way as real biological muscle - but using air and engineering to create the shortening in length rather than chemical reactions. The principle is that short rubber tubes are wired directly to the part that they are intended to move. Inflating the tube causes it to shorten and so create a pulling force. Clearly the problem is that such a device cannot push but you can either use them in pairs or set one working against a passive tension device.
Clearly the advantage is controllability and overall lightness and efficiency. The design is by Festo who are well known for there biologically inspired robot hardware.
Play-i, a Californian start up of former engineers for Google, Apple and Frog Design, is taking pre-orders for Yana, a storyteller robot, and Bo, an explorer. Although the initial batch of "cons [ ... ]