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Photo: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images

A robot built at the University of Washington can spear a carrot or a tomato, and gingerly lift it up for a person to eat without using their hands.

The big picture: About 1 million American adults need help eating, according to census data. But there's more to feeding somebody than you might think. In experiments, the UW researchers gathered data as volunteers picked up various foods with a fork and fake-fed them to a mannequin.

  • Without thinking, people make all sorts of small adjustments based on a food's size, shape and texture. Most stab a soft banana at an angle, for example, so it doesn't fall off, and skewer a hard carrot by wiggling the fork in.
  • The researchers taught their robot to identify several fruits and vegetables on a plate, and then pick the best place to pick one up: strawberries in the middle; longer carrots at an end.
  • Then, the arm lifts up the food and holds it near the person's mouth for them to bite it off.

Watch more videos of the robot here.

Go deeper

Twitter debuts subscription products to help double revenue by 2023

Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter said Thursday that it plans to increase the amount of money it makes off of its users by allowing them to pay creators directly for content they like.

Why it matters: The company is trying to broaden its revenue stream away from being dependent mostly on ads, and particularly on ads from big brands.

DHS directing $77 million to combat domestic violent extremism in states, cities

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

For the first time, states and localities will spend at least $77 million of Department of Homeland Security grant money on combatting domestic violent extremism, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism has been on the rise in the U.S., spurred on by growing polarization and the mainstreaming of online conspiracy theories. In the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Mayorkas has made fighting the problem a "National Priority Area."

Senate confirms former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy.

Why it matters: Granholm, only the second woman to head the department, will play a key role in President Biden’s efforts to accelerate the U.S. shift to clean energy and help other countries do the same.