Beanbags replacing robotic fingers

The same fillings used in a bean bag are now set to be used in robotic hands to improve grip.
According to an article in New Scientist, the small bean bags will now be used to make a robot gripper which will be able to lift up smaller and more delicate items.
The bean bags look like small bags with a suction pad, however they are proving to be an even greater rival to previously designed robotic fingers as they are able to grip small and delicate items. In fact, a video on The New Scientist website shows the bean bag gripper lifting an uncooked egg without smashing it.
This new development has seen robotic designs come on a long way as in the past it had been very difficult for a robot to know exactly where to place their hands and how hard to grip something without crushing it.
The amount of grip will obviously depend on the type of material the object is made from and how much it weighs. Now the new grippers do not have to reply on sensors to tell it what to do.
These new rubber bags have been developed by a team at the University of Chicago, led by Eric Brown. Their project seen them develop a rubber bag that has around 80 per cent of its volume filled with glass spheres. Each sphere only measures in at around 100 micrometres in diameter.
As the bag is pressed down on to the object, the spheres will mould around the shape of it providing a type of grip. Then a pump is using to create a vacuum in the bag which will grip around the object allowing it to be lifted.
Speaking to New Scientist, Eric Brown said: “Our gripper is simpler because it does not need tactile sensing.”

Leave a Comment