February 16, 2012
Robot Hand Capable Of Grasping, Throwing Objects
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Cornell University and University of Chicago engineers have developed a robotic hand that is capable of gripping objects and throwing them.
The robot hand features a "universal jamming gripper" that can quickly harden by evacuating air inside the membrane, like vacuum-packing.
If the gripper is placed over an object, such as a dart or coin, the hand tightly grasps it as the air is release. Air is then pumped back into the hand, which loosens the robot's grip and helps it "shoot" the objects into the air.
"Using a combination of positive and negative pressure, the gripper can rapidly grip and release a wide range of objects that are typically challenging for universal grippers, such as flat objects, soft objects, or objects with complex geometries," the engineers said in a statement.
The team said that the design is inspired from the human hand, and is a simple, low cost machine that is still highly capable.
The engineers said the gripper would be useful in situations where a robot needs to grip or lift a variety of times it has not seen before.
“In the long term we are striving to apply jamming in a more general way to adaptive robots and structures that might reconfigure, locomote, or recover from damage,” the team said in a statement on its website.
They said specific applications for the robot hand could include military robotics and improvised explosive device (IED) defeat missions.
The team also said the robot hand could be used in consumer and service robotics in unstructured environments like the home.
"As robots move into increasingly unstructured environments (like the home), applications like sorting objects into bins or throwing away trash come to mind," the researchers said in a statement.
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