Robot gripper uses coffee to pick up anything

Picking up a raw egg is not something we’d think a robot gripper would be good at. But this model uses a bulbous tip instead of claw, which makes crushing the object less of a concern.

That tip is kind of like a balloon. It is stretched full with coffee grounds but air can also be pumped in and sucked out. When it comes time to grip an object, a bit of air is pumped in and the bulb is pressed down on its target. Once in place all of the air is sucked out, locking the coffee grounds around the object. Take a look after the break to see just how many things can be gripped with this technique.

Now the real question, can it bring me a beer?

[via BotJunkie]

Comments

  1. hybrid_mind says:

    Now that’s an ingenious idea. I’m surprised that the tip can actually grip that well.

  2. lee says:

    Apparently it can grab you a beer (bottled), possibly open it (if the bottle top doesn’t tear the balloon), pour it in a glass and serve it to you… I wonder what the max load is.

  3. andrew says:

    Cool. Somebody figured out a useful application of that “shape-shifting” robot we saw last year (was it from MIT?).

  4. andrew says:

    Yep, it was last october. Here’s the link: http://hackaday.com/2009/10/15/morphing-robot-demonstrated-at-iros/

  5. Spork says:

    This is a wonderful concept, the most interesting part?
    “Neither the bag geometry nor details of the granular material seem to influence [the holding force] strongly, as long as they do not interfere with the degree to which the membrane can conform to an object’s surface.”

    @lee
    From the paper, it looks like max holding force is ~80 Newtons for an ideal object (a sphere of similar size to the balloon)

  6. Luke says:

    That is really impressive. I wonder how durable it is?

  7. fjr says:

    In the article they list objects with a hole being more difficult.

    I think they should add a single gripper/finger to latch onto more difficult objects (of certain shapes)..

    Nonetheless this is a really cool innovation.

  8. ccl says:

    Looks like Doraemon’s hand.

  9. M4CGYV3R says:

    “Jamming” might just be the dumbest name I’ve ever heard for this effect.

    How about Pneumatic Rigidity Locomotion or something that actually has to do with the effect?

    Hipster scientists tick me off…

  10. Drake says:

    Can someone say stretch arm strong?

  11. JoJo says:

    Cool, but not new. the same concept has been used in manufacturing automation for years. :)

  12. gripen40k says:

    @fjr
    What about a hand that looks kinda like an oven mitt, and it has the balloon suction things on the inside. That way it can ‘suck’ onto stuff from both sides.

  13. onida says:

    one real question is, can it make me a coffee?

  14. supershwa says:

    Hooray for coffee!

  15. echodelta says:

    We need a tiny one that slips on a finger tip to hold nuts and washers in place during those fumble fingered assembly times.
    The icosahedron-balloon on the older project is faked, in that it is ballooning out to move. NASA tried that in the moon rover days. Slower than a turtle. Wheels won. Lunakhod!
    Seriously, multifingered skeletal frame motor driven balloon granule covered now we got something. The rubber surface can be more robust now.

  16. trup says:

    @M4CGYV3R

    The effect is actually called jamming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamming_%28physics%29

    Its not some trendy word these guys invented.

  17. Hirudinea says:

    This could be useful for an amputee as an artifical hand, better than a steel claw. (Lousy for typing though)

  18. Justin says:

    creepiest sex bot ever

  19. TravisD says:

    I suspect that the robot requires root access for control, therefore “sudo bring me a beer” might be the necessary command…

  20. Trollicus says:

    I suspect that the robot requires root access for control, therefore “sudo bring me a beer” might be the necessary command…

    That would make it a “Root Beer”

    Great hack, Love the use of Coffee, can’t get to much Coffee……

  21. 24601 says:

    is it pre-brew or post-brew coffee?

  22. Whatnot says:

    Finally a robot that can pick up my tetrahedrons and tidy up a bit.

  23. M4CGYV3R says:

    @trup

    Just because it was coined 3 years ago by some physicist doesn’t make it any less stupid than being coined now by some researcher.

    All of the ‘research’ into ‘Jamming’ is speculative at best. These whackjob scientists actually think that it’s a ‘new phase transition’…it’s not in any sense of the term.

    This is no more a new state of matter than sand on a beach. It’s a solid, with a gas introduced/removed.

  24. nave.notnilc says:

    I swear I’ve seen this before, I think they were using some sort of small styrofoam bits, and a rubber (or something) glove, it was intended for prosthetics.

  25. grenadier says:

    It can’t pick things up from the side, hence picking up the glass by the rim.

  26. Ford says:

    M4CGYV3R, why the hostility?

    First of all, if you look at the references to the Wikipedia article, you see that the term “jamming” has been used at least since the 1998 article in Physical Review Letters, and that article doesn’t even try to pass it off as some term they just coined. It’s just a straightforward description of what is happening.

    To me, jamming is a perfectly fitting term here. Ever heard of a traffic jam?

  27. this is very cool, i like it.
    and it looks like a breast… :)

  28. tinkermonky says:

    Great idea! Almost a universal object manipulator.
    Would it be possible to use a torus or doughnut shaped balloon for jamming? Then you could evacuate the center of the torus for use as a suction cup for flat items. I picture a very bulbous torus with only a small hole in the center.

  29. Spork says:

    @tinkermonky
    I was actually thinking of using 3 in a triangle shape with the object roughly in the center. The novel thing about a sphere as a ‘claw’ is that you don’t have to be accurate. As long as you hit the object with enough surface area, the medium ‘jamming’ it will produce enough force to lift the object.

  30. Necromant says:

    Looks like it’s time to oreder some balloons =)

  31. M4CGYV3R says:

    @Ford
    My bad, guess my wireless keyboard was dying and dropped the 1. That should have been 13 years. I was also looking at the Wiki refs.

    And my hostility? Like I said, hipster scientists tick me off.

    They are trying to pass off a bag of sand with the air sucked out as a new state of matter. It’s at least pretentious and arrogant, and at worst misleading and detrimental to scientific progress.

    Traffic jams are commonly explained by a much older, sounder set of studies, which would be much more applicable here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queueing_theory

  32. walt says:

    very nice innovation!
    I guess it didn’t have to font to write the letter it tried to make so it drew a square :p

  33. Andynonymous says:

    I have actually seen this in action.

    It can pick up coins.

    Nuff said about that, I think…

    Now for the trolling:

    @M4CGYV3R
    Queueing theory doesn’t really work in this case, as it finds basically finds stuff out about THINGS STANDING IN LINES.

    DO YOU SEE A LINE HERE? I SURE DON’T.

    Traffic jams fit this, as one would like to know how long one would have to wait at the light. Also they are in lines. The coffee grounds: they ain’t going anywhere and they sure aren’t in a line.

    I think you are the one being arrogant and misleading here. Its one thing to accuse someone doing bad science, but to then to reference science that little to NOTHING related to the subject is stupidity.

    I do have to say that Wikipedia saying that jamming is a phase transition seems a bit iffy, but its basically saying that sand can act like a solid in certain cases (the beach) and a liquid under others (quicksand). E.G. Nothing new, and nothing to raise a shit storm over.

    Actually, Wikipedia doesn’t even say that jamming is a phase transition. It actually says it “has been proposed as a new type of phase transition”.

    In short: You don’t deserve to use your post name. Replace your keyboard’s battery and find a different name. While you’re at it, learn to read your articles before you reference them and look up what a hipster is and make sure you aren’t becoming one yourself.

  34. Whatnot says:

    All these fights, you guys should do like that robot and get a stress ball made out of a bag with ground coffee ;)

    And I probably would have called it ‘packing’ I think.

  35. Whatnot says:

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