A team at MIT has developed a robotic gripper that uses a 3D-printed origami structure reported to be able to lift 100 times its own weight. The origami-inspired gripper consists of a 3D-printed 16-piece silicone rubber skeleton encased in an airtight skin. A vacuum collapses the gripper, which conforms around a multitude of shapes without losing strength, the team found.
“One of my moon shots is to create a robot that can automatically pack groceries for you,” said Professor Daniela Rus, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and one of the paper’s senior authors. “Previous approaches to the packing problem could only handle very limited classes of objects – objects that are very light or objects that conform to shapes such as boxes and cylinders. But with the … gripper system, we’ve shown that we can do pick-and-place tasks for a large variety of items ranging from wine bottles to broccoli, grapes and eggs.”
The team’s article outlining the project is available at DSpace@MIT.