Gripper Uses Belts To Pinch And Grasp

For all the work done since the dawn of robotics, there is still no match for the human hand in terms of its dexterity and adaptability. Researchers of the IRIM Lab at Koreatech is a step closer with their ingenious BLT gripper, which can pinch with precision or grasp a larger object with evenly distributed force. (Video embedded below.)

The three fingered gripper is technically called a “belt and link actuated transformable adaptive gripper with active transition capability”. Each finger is a interesting combination of a rigid “fingertip” and actuation link, and a belt as a grasping surface. The actuation link has a small gearbox at it’s base to open and close the hand, and the hinge with the “fingertip” is spring-loaded to the open position. A flexible belt stretches between the finger tip and the base of the gripper, which can be tensioned to actuate the fingertip for pinching, or provide even force across the inside of the gripper for grasping. Two of the fingers can also rotate at the base to give various gripper configurations. This allows the gripper to be used in various ways, including smoothly shifting between pinching and grasping without dropping a object.

We love the relative simplicity of the mechanism, and can see it being used for general robotics and prosthetic hands, especially if force sensing is integrated.  The mechanism should be fairly easy to replicate using 3D printed components, a piece of toothed belt, and two cheap servos, so get cracking! Continue reading “Gripper Uses Belts To Pinch And Grasp”

Origami Gripper Is Great For Soft And Heavy Objects

Robotic arms are fascinating devices, capable of immense speed and precision when carrying out their tasks. They’re also capable of carrying great loads, and a full-sized industrial robot in operation at maximum pace is a sight to behold. However, while it’s simple to design grippers to move strong metal objects, picking up delicate or soft objects can be much harder. A team at MIT CSAIL have been working on a solution to this problem, which they call the Origami gripper.

The gripper is highly capable at lifting objects with complex shapes.

The gripper consists of a flexible, folding skeleton surrounded by an airtight skin. When vacuum is applied, the skeleton contracts around the object to be picked up. The gripper is capable of grasping objects sized up to 70% of its diameter, and over 100 times its weight.

Fabrication of the device involved the creation of 3D printed molds to produce the silicone rubber skeleton. Combined with precise lasercutting and advanced layering techniques, this created a part that can self-fold itself into shape under the right conditions. The structure was inspired by a “magic ball” origami design. The outer skin is remarkably simple in comparison – consisting of a regular latex balloon.

The team show off the gripper performing some impressive feats, with the robot able to pick up objects of all shapes, sizes, and weights without damage. The paper is available to read for the full story on the device. The use of vacuum for delicate gripping tasks is something we’ve seen before, too.