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Design for Good

Robotic Hand Offers Gentle Grip for Fragile Objects

While recent advances in software and technology have made remarkable progress in humanoid robotics, one area consistently lagging in comparison to human ability has been the sensitivity of touch. Now, a new robotic hand offers the precision and gentleness needed to grasp objects as fragile as raw eggs.

Developed by researchers at the University of Chicago, the new gripper relies on a soft beanbag ball in place of fingers. Rather than relying on tactile sensing, it uses a rubber ball filled with tiny glass spheres to about 80% of its volume. When the bag is pressed on the target object, the micro-balls mould to its shape and a pump creates vacuum to pull them in place for a secure yet gentle grasp of the object as the force is distributed evenly across the gripping surface.

Larger versions of the hand can grasp multiple objects at the same time.

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.

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