Say hello to Twister. That’s Twisted Tower Robot, to those of you who demand full names—a title that does a rather better job of describing the form of the new device.
Developed by researchers from Case Western Reserve University, the arm is made up of a long 3-D-printed replica of an origami tower. It also has four thin cables running through it, with a series of pulleys and motors that allow the arm to be manipulated.
The team has also built a version of the arm that features three smaller origami towers as fingers. Those are able to absorb excess energy as they grasp an object, which allows the arm to pick up delicate items like eggs and ripe fruit without the need for force sensing. Details of the arm are published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.
The device won’t be bolting together cars anytime soon. But its light weight could make it useful for some applications where every gram counts, such as space missions.