The team behind the robotic gripper took inspiration from sea creatures like the jellyfish and designed tentacles for it. The tentacles are made of soft rubber, are very thin and called “filaments.” One side of the tentacles is thicker than the other side so that it can “curl like a pigtail or like straightened hair on a rainy day”. With each entanglement, the hold of the tentacle on the object becomes stronger. As the tentacles are made of rubber, they could find application in lifting fragile objects. The researchers says that they have tested the device with “a range of objects, including various houseplants and toys.”
Tentacle robot can gently grasp fragile objects
Kaitlyn Becker, postdoctoral fellow at SEAS, said, “By taking advantage of the natural compliance of soft robotics and enhancing it with a compliant structure, we designed a gripper that is greater than the sum of its parts and a grasping strategy that can adapt to a range of complex objects with minimal planning and perception”.
“The gripper could be used in real-world applications to grasp soft fruits and vegetables for agricultural production and distribution, delicate tissue in medical settings, even irregularly shaped objects in warehouses, such as glassware.”, claim the researchers.