Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee Balloon Robotic Hand Co-Developed by iRobot

Coffee-Filled Hand
This latest invention is, frankly, amazing. iRobot and researchers at Cornell and the University of Chicago with funding from DARPA developed a powerful robotic hand using a simple vacuum, a balloon, and coffee grounds. Here's how it works — the coffee-filled balloon is lowered onto an object that needs picking up. The balloon deforms around the object. Then the vacuum is activated, and the coffee grounds suddenly lock together and effectively tighten the balloon's grip. Then the object can be picked up.
I'm sure they can advance this technology to a host of applications. You can already guess the one I'd like to see — A robotic hand attachment for the Roomba that picks up toys, socks, underwear and anything else in its way!

Here's the video:

Popular Science has more.

1 comment:

beambot said...

Colin Angle (iRobot CEO) showed the "jamming gripper" prototype in his 2009 TEDMED talk as an extension of "jamming skin locomotion" (blob robot). In his talk, he showed a video of it grasping medication, keys, a water bottle, and even a dummy-patient's arm; he also demonstrated a hand-held version. It's nice to see a more formal evaluation.