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This Soft Robotic Gripper Can Screw in Your Light Bulbs for You


robotic gripper

The soft robotic gripper handling a light bulb.

Credit: B. Shih / UC San Diego

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have developed a robotic gripper that can pick up and manipulate objects without needing to see them in advance. The researchers say the gripper is unique because it can twist objects, sense objects, and build models of the objects it is manipulating. These abilities enable the gripper to operate in low light and low visibility conditions.

During testing, the gripper demonstrated that it could pick up, manipulate, and model a wide range of objects. "We designed the device to mimic what happens when you reach into your pocket and feel for your keys," says UCSD researcher Michael T. Tolley.

The gripper has three fingers, each of which is made of three soft and flexible pneumatic chambers that move when air pressure is applied, Tolley says. Each finger also is covered with a smart sensing skin made of silicone rubber, and embedded with sensors fashioned from conducting carbon nanotubes.

From University of California, San Diego
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