Robot hands are likely to skew toward extremes. They can pick up heavy objects or delicate objects, but hardly ever both. MIT CSAIL’s solution is to avoid hands overall. Its scientists have designed a Venus flytrap-akin gripper that can hold objects as delicate as a grape, but also products 100 times its weight. This can be done even if they are shaped oddly. The trick depends on a mixture of clever physics using brute force.
The underlying gripper rotates around an origami structure (3D-printed) composed of plastic that folds at high temperatures on itself. It can efficiently adapt to the shape of whatever it is holding without negotiating its strength. Vacuum power keeps objects resolutely in grip, while a sealed skin composed from a rubber balloon or fabric gives it an enhanced gripping surface.
As smart as this is, there are still restrictions. The shape helps itself best to holding round objects such as wine bottles and fruit, and if possible solid products. It will have issues with flat objects such as books, and the suction will not assist when objects have punctures. Even so, this can be helpful for robots that have to lift up a wide series of good.
On a related note, scientists at the MIT have designed a new system that will either result in humanity’s inevitable end at the hands of mechanical overlords or enhance the accuracy & quality of robotics. With the help of RFID tags, the scientists were capable of making robots more accurate and efficient when tracking moving objects. The invention carries primary implications for the future of manufacturing robots, drones, and many other use cases. The system, which will be posted at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation in a paper, is shockingly novel and simple.