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A Texas-based robotics firm has recently been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to develop Artificially Intelligent (AI) robotic hands for underwater operation by the United States Office of Naval Research.

Robotic technologies are becoming more and more prevalent in important military applications. Robots have been assisting soldiers in all environments, from above the clouds all the way to the deepest parts of the ocean.

However developing robotic technologies for underwater applications is not as simple as developing robotics for any other environment. Robots underwater simply do not have the same dexterity as ground or air based robots. This greatly limits the usefulness of underwater robots to complete critical tasks.

That is why the team at Houston Mechatronics Inc. (HMI) is working to develop a highly dexterous robotic arm that utilizes AI behavior.

The robotic hand will be powered by AI software to increase the robot’s performance. It is not enough to have sturdy hardware, you also need intelligent software to enable precise movements and functions. reports that the robotic hands will be tested on a subsea robot called Aquanaut. The Aquanaut is an unmanned autonomous underwater vehicle that can morph into being a remotely operated vehicle. Because of these factors, the Aquanaut is perfect for testing the feasibility of HMI’s robotic hands technology.

“Our team excels at the rapid development, testing and deployment of subsea robotic technology,” said Nic Radford, HMI’s CTO. “…We look forward to demonstrating the value that dexterous end effectors integrated into capable manipulators will bring to the U.S. Navy.”