Soft, biologically inspired robots have become one of the field’s most exciting offshoots, with machines that are capable of squeezing between obstacles and conforming to the world around them.

A joint project between MIT CSAIL and Harvard’s Wyss converts those learnings into a simple, soft robotic gripper capable of handling delicate objects and picking up things up to 100x its own weight.

The gripper itself is made of an origami-inspired skeletal structure, covered in either fabric or a deflated balloon.

It’s a principle the team recently employed on another project designed to create low-cost artificial muscles.

A connector attaches the gripper to the arm and also sports a vacuum tube that sucks air out from the gripper, collapsing it around an object.

Like Soft Robotics’ commercial gripper, the malleable nature of the device means it grab hold of a wide range of different objects with less need for a complex vision system.

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