Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

“A small bag filled with coffee grounds is lending robots a fingerless hand. The new kind of gripper, described online the week of October 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is capable of grasping all sorts of different objects with ease.

“This could be game-changing technology,” says mechanical engineer Peko Hosoi of MIT, who was not involved with the new study. “The idea is so simple, yet effective and robust.”

The simple gripper is made of a bag of coffee grounds and a vacuum, though other grains such as couscous and sand also work, says study coauthor Eric Brown of the University of Chicago. To pick something up, the bag of loose grounds first melds around the object. Then, as a vacuum sucks air out of the spaces between grains, the gripper stiffens, packing itself into a hard vice molded to the outline of the object. Reducing the bag’s starting volume by just a teeny amount — less than 1 percent of the total — was enough to make the gripper latch on, the team found.

This transition from fluidlike behavior (such as dry sand flowing out of a bucket) to solid (a hard-packed sand castle) is a physical process called “jamming.” Because the gripper’s bulb conforms to any shape evenly before the vacuum jams it, it’s extremely versatile. “Our goal was to pick up objects where you don’t know what you’re dealing with ahead of time,” Brown says.”

Read more at Wired (Thanks @XxLadyClaireXx)

October 31, 2010 at 9:58 am
Rob says:

I like a lot. A real advance yet so simple. One of those ‘good god it’s so obvoius’ type thingies.

October 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm
roz says:

it can even pick a nose??? 😛

October 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm

That is massively impressive- especially the egg and tetrahedron, and that it’s even strong enough to grip a pen.

November 1, 2010 at 5:42 am
Radu C says:

When will it be available in the field of prosthetics? This would make a magnificent prosthetic hand, and I believe that with simple neurosurgery (if anything neuro can be called “simple”) and training one could live a normal life as if the limb was the original one, controlling the suction of the device just by thought alone. Add a few motors at the shoulder (if the whole arm is missing) and elbow, connect them by a few neurons, train the patient to operate the three: shoulder motor, elbow motor, suction switch, and you’ve got someone their life back (and a fully functional cyborg). Anyway, a lot better than the metal hook and plastic hand approach.


New and exclusive items

FEATURED Infamous Brochure

Infamous Brochure