An anonymous reader shares a report: Robotic hands have a tough time getting a grip on pliable objects, but it’s not for lack of trying — most make do with rigid pincers that aren’t designed for precision grasping. Fortunately, if a newly published paper is any indication, more versatile systems are on the horizon. In it, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard describe a novel gripper design that’s capable of lifting items in a range of weights, shapes, and sizes.
The team’s hollow, cone-shaped gripper comprises three parts — a 3D-printed, 16-piece silicone rubber skeleton with a gripper-to-mount connector encased by an airtight skin — that together collapse in on objects as opposed to clutching them. It was inspired by the “magic ball,” an origami design that’s folded from a rectangular piece of paper pre-creased with a repeating, offset pattern that reversibly changes between a spherical and cylindrical shape. The gripper is powered by a pneumatic vacuum and covered by either a 27-inch latex rubber balloon or a TPU-coated nylon fabric sheet, depending on the configuration. The researchers tested three: one with a self-folded fabric skin skeleton, a second with a rubber-molded skeleton, and a third with a tougher rubber skeleton.
[…] In one experiment where the team mounted the gripper on a robot to test its strength, it managed to lift and grasp objects — 12 food items, 19 different bottles and cups, and 14 miscellaneous items, some weighing over four pounds — that were 70 percent of its diameter and up to 120 times its weight without damaging them. It currently works best with cylindrical objects like bottles and cans, according to Shuguang Li, a joint postdoctoral student at MIT CSAIL and Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), which makes it a natural fit for factory production lines.
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Source: Slashdot – Origami-inspired Robot Gripper Grasps Objects Up To 120 Times Its Weight