Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a new soft robotic gripper that can bend and pick up delicate objects using electroadhesion.
When the voltage is turned on, the electrodes bend toward the object to be picked up, imitating muscle function. The tips of the electrodes act like fingertips that gently conform to the shape of the object, gripping it with electrostatic forces. The electrodes can carry 80 times their own weight without requiring any prior knowledge about the object's shape.
"Our unique configuration of electrodes and silicone membranes is what allows us to control the bending of the flaps and the electrostatic grip," says EPFL researcher Herbert Shea.
The electrode flaps consist of five layers: a pre-stretched elastomer layer sandwiched between two layers of electrodes, plus two outer layers of silicone of different thickness. When the voltage is off, the difference in thickness of the outer layers makes the flaps curl outwards. When the voltage is on, the attraction between the two layers of electrodes straightens out the membranes, mimicking muscle flexion.
From Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
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