Harvard researchers create smooth, tentacle-like robotic gripper

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Harvard’s tentacle-like gripper wrapping round a succulent. | Supply: Harvard Microrobotics Lab/Harvard SEAS

Researchers on the Harvard John A. Paulson Faculty of Engineering and Utilized Sciences (SEAS) have created a tentacle-like gripper that may grasp irregularly formed or smooth objects with out damaging them. 

The gripper is made up of many skinny, smooth tentacles that depend on inflation to wrap themselves round an object with none sensing, planning or suggestions management. Individually, every tentacle is just too weak to choose up many objects, however with many working collectively the gripper can gently raise heavy and oddly formed objects.

Every tentacle is made up of a foot-long hole, rubber rubes. The tubes are made with thicker plastic on one aspect, in order that was the tube is pressurized it curls like a pigtail. Because the tube curls, it wraps and entangles itself round an object. Every added tentacle will increase the power of this maintain. The gripper releases the item by merely depressurizing the tentacles. 

When designing the gripper, the analysis crew took inspiration from nature. The gripper’s tentacles act equally to how a jellyfish stuns its prey. 

To check how efficient the gripper was, the analysis crew used simulation and experiments the place the gripper was tasked with dealing with a spread of objects, together with totally different houseplants and toys. 

The crew hopes that the gripper can be utilized to know fragile objects, like smooth vegetables and fruit in agricultural manufacturing and distribution and delicate tissue in medical settings, in addition to irregularly formed objects, like glassware, in warehouses. The gripper may substitute conventional grippers that depend on embedded sensors, advanced suggestions loops and superior machine-learning algorithms to work. 

The crew’s analysis was revealed within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It was co-authored by Clark Teeple, Nicholas Charles, Yeonsu Jung, Daniel Baum and James C. Weaver, and supported by the Workplace of Naval Analysis, the Nationwide Science Basis, the Simons Basis and the Henri Seydoux fund. 

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