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The robot gripper can grab objects that are 100 times heavier than itself

2021-06-28

According to foreign media The Verge, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) Professor Daniela Rus said that if someone asks you to imagine a robot, you might think of a humanoid robot or some heavy industrial robotic arms. "But for me, I want to see a change," she informed The Verge.



The latest work of the MIT team is a good analogy. This is a robotic gripper planned for grasping objects, but to say the least it looks right or wrong. Visually, compared with a sci-fi robot gripper, it has more in common with rubber tulips or deflated balloons. Rubber injection molding machine automation


It is this kind of appearance that makes the gripper very useful. Under the rubber skin is an origami skeleton shaped like a starfish. When gas is pumped into and pulled out of the airtight enclosure of the fixture, the entire device opens and closes like a flower.

The device can grab fragile objects without damaging them, while still maintaining a satisfactory and strong grip, and can grab objects that are 100 times heavier than itself. "By combining this foldable frame with a soft appearance, we can achieve the effect of killing two birds with one stone," Rus told The Verge. "I am very happy to start grabbing groceries with this robot hand." Rubber injection molding machine automation


Software robot grippers like this are not new. In the previous ten years, this category has experienced rapid development. A natural use case is logistics: grabbing items in warehouses and factories. Although most of this operation is automated, companies such as Amazon still widely employ people to handle individual items and pack them into bags and boxes. This is due to the interaction of traditional robotic grippers made of metal and hard plastic with fragile objects and irregular shapes.


And this soft robotic gripper seems to be the best solution to this problem, and the past few years have seen an explosive increase in this technology. Laboratories like CSAIL and commercial companies like RightHand Robotics participated in this event and developed various products. 




Rus said her new robotic gripper is a better solution than any previous plan. Its tulip shape means that it can approach objects from a certain point of view. In addition, its origami skeleton has both strength and flexibility.

Rus and her team developed and announced this gripper in 2017. As for why these devices have not been selected yet, Rus said that this is because commercial solutions have not caught up with the "innovations presented in the laboratory." Another reason may be laziness in principle. Once the company has invested in valuable equipment, replacing it is not a simple decision, especially assuming that updating the hardware may mean rearranging the entire production line. Rubber injection molding machine automation


"As far as we know, this is the first robotic gripper invented that can do this kind of useful work," Rus said.


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