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MIT robot's flytrap gripper can grab both fragile and heavy objects


Robot hands tend to skew toward extremes. They can pick up delicate objects or heavy objects, but rarely both. Its researchers have developed a Venus flytrap-like gripper that can grab objects as fragile as a grape, but also items 100 times its weight -- even if they're oddly shaped. The trick relies on a combination of clever physics with brute force. The underlying gripper revolves around a 3D-printed origami structure made out of a plastic that folds on itself at high temperatures.

A lizard-inspired robot gripper may solve our space-junk problems


Space junk is a huge problem in orbit. Over 500,000 pieces of debris are currently orbiting the Earth at up to 17,500 miles per hour, and we haven't yet figured out how to clean it up. But engineers at Stanford may have made a breakthrough: They've designed a robotic gripper based on gecko's feet that works in zero-g. The end goal is to use it to clean up space junk. The problem with existing technology is that everything is designed to work at Earth's gravity, within Earth's temperature range.

Unsettling robot grips like an elephant's truck


A team of scientists built a tentacle-like robot gripper that they say is more sensitive than a conventional claw or hand-shaped machine -- because it wraps around and delicately constricts objects like a python or an elephant's trunk. Modeling an elephant's complex musculature allows it to snugly grip delicate or hard-to-reach objects, according to a press release, in a new, gentler paradigm for robotic arms. Thanks to a network of sensors that tell the robot snake how hard it's gripping, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) scientists that designed it say it can grab and hold delicate objects far more safely than conventional robots, according to research published last week in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. In a short lab video, the robot can be seen automatically winding around and grabbing objects ranging from a hammer to cucumber. The scientists say it can hold a grip on objects 220 times heavier than itself.

Ground coffee party balloon robot gripper

AITopics Original Links

If you've got ground coffee and a few party balloons lying around, you have the ingredients for a universal robot gripper, according to researchers at Cornell University, the University of Chicago, and iRobot. In a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers including Hod Lipson, associate professor of mechanical engineering and computer science at Cornell, describe how they used granular material instead of multijointed fingers to create a robot gripper. The researchers put ground coffee into a latex balloon and attached it to a robot arm. When the coffee balloon is pressed around an object like a brush, above, it deforms and envelops the target. When the air is removed from the balloon, the ground coffee solidifies around the brush, forming a firm grip.

A Choice of Grippers Helps Dual-Arm Robot Pick Up Objects Faster Than Ever

IEEE Spectrum Robotics

We've been following Dex-Net's progress towards universal grasping for several years now, and today in a paper in Science Robotics, UC Berkeley is presenting Dex-Net 4.0. The new and exciting bit about this latest version of Dex-Net is that it's able to successfully grasp 95 percent of unseen objects at a rate of 300 per hour, thanks to some added ambidexterity that lets the robot dynamically choose between two different kinds of grippers. For some context, humans are able to pick objects like these nearly twice as fast, between 400 and 600 picks per hour. And my guess would be that human success rates are as close to 100 percent as you can reasonably expect, perhaps achieving 100 percent if you allow for multiple tries to pick the same object. We set a very, very high bar for the machines.