New robot tentacle neatly captures even the most fragile items

September 13, 2012 16:50

Traditional robotic manipulators excellent job of moving parts in the production of cars, but not suitable for soft and fragile items that require special delicacy.
A team of scientists from Harvard University (Harvard University) together with experts of the Agency for Defense Advanced Research Projects USA (DARPA) to create a mechanical tentacle, which is so sensitive that can pluck a flower without damaging it. Amazing device is described in the journal Advanced Materials (also available in PDF-version of the article.)

Vaytsayds George (George Whitesides) and his colleagues moved away from the standard, when the manipulators are doing similar to a human hand. Inspiration for their work, they found watching octopuses. These creatures hold the objects, making several turns around the tentacles and pressure distribution between the different parts of the object.
A new device that copies of such seizure, is a flexible plastic tube. Inside it has a few isolated and separated into sections of channels, which are filled with compressed air. By changing the air pressure in the different compartments, the operator makes the tube to bend in three dimensions and adjust the force with which it compresses the subject. (Similarly, by the way, other members of the Harvard made a robot to walk and even to masquerade as the environment.)
In addition to the seizure of various items, inflatable tentacle can suck the liquid and transfer them in the same way as it is done with the elephants trunk.
The developers plan to soon add the device a few more details, including suckers, syringes, and a miniature camera. They make sure that cheap and simple technology will be used in various fields of human activity.
Better features new items shown in the following video.

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