When Unimate, the world’s first industrial robot arm, showed off its skills by assembling a breakfast of buttered toast, coffee and champagne half a century ago, it seemed that robots were on the cusp of being able to carry out virtually any task we could perform with our hands.
But things haven’t turned out to be so easy.
While Unimate’s every move was carefully coded, robots which have to deal with the uncertainties of the real world have proven less adept at being able to manipulate objects with the right amount of dexterity.
A new soft robot gripper is here to help.
Developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, the suction-based gripper resembles a kind of rubberized Venus flytrap.
“[The gripper] consists of two main parts: A flexible membrane as ‘skin,’ and an origami-inspired compressible structure as ‘skeleton,’” Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), told Digital Trends.