Tentacle Robot Wants To Hold You Gently

Twelve pink tentacles are wrapped around a small, green succulent plant. The leaves seem relatively undisturbed. They are dangling from brass and white plastic pressure fittings attached to a brass circle.

Human hands are remarkable pieces of machinery, so it’s no wonder many robots are designed after their creators. The amount of computation required to properly attenuate the grip strength and position of a hand is no joke though, so what if you took a tentacular approach to grabbing things instead?

Inspired by ocean creatures, researchers found that by using a set of pneumatically-controlled tentacles, they could grasp irregular objects reliably and gently without having to faff about with machine learning or oodles of sensors. The tentacles can wrap around the object itself or intertwine with each other to encase parts of an object in its gentle grasp.

The basic component of the device is 12 sections “slender elastomeric filament” which dangle at gauge pressure, but begin to curl as pressure is applied up to 172 kPa. All of the 300 mm long segments run on the same pressure source and are the same size, but adding multiple sized filaments or pressure sources might be useful for certain applications.

We wonder how it would do feeding a fire or loading a LEGO train with candy? We also have covered how to build mechanical tentacles and soft robots, if that’s more your thing.

16 thoughts on “Tentacle Robot Wants To Hold You Gently

  1. My first thought is :”How many cycles before it tangles? 5, 10,100,1000?”
    Ideal for Tesla AI automation i.e. where you need to have a human present and paying attention 100% of the time to untangle it.

    Which is not to deny it’s exceptional coolness…

    1. Cool concept, regarding the tangling/untangling, if they are made of the same material as my shoe laces, they will always fully untangle within a 100 yards (no matter how good you tie them). Just keep moving.

      1. If your laces come loose regularly then you are tying them wrong.
        Don’t feel bad about it though, MOST people tie them wrong.

        You want to use it like a square knot.
        Right over left, left over right. (Or the reverse)

        I’m sure there are PLENTY of good tutorials out there.
        Make sure to find one that mentions the square knot, and DOESN’T mention something silly like a bunny going around a tree (because that is NOT the correct knot, which is why most people tie their shoes wrong)

  2. A larger version of this might be the ideal effector to grab and retrieve the fragile Apollo 10 Lunar Module, ‘Snoopy’ spinning away out there in deep space. That would be of course when Elon is goaded into the concept of doing a spectacular demonstration mission for cargo Starship.

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