Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

This Robotic Tentacle Can Easily Grasp Smooth Objects

Its dexterity could make it invaluable in factories and homes.

Do not be alarmed, but this disembodied robotic tentacle can gracefully grasp smooth objects or pass them to your puny human hand.

The OctopusGripper has been created by German robotics firm Festo, which is no stranger to creating automatons modeled on nature. Its soft gripper is composed of two main mechanisms. Its silicone tentacle is pneumatically driven: when air is pumped into it, it curls inward to encircle whatever item it’s placed around. Then, two rows of suction cups, which can deform to accommodate unusually shaped objects, use a vacuum to ensure that the object stays in place.

As you can see, it works pretty well, and can be used to grasp smooth, curved objects, including balls, metal cylinders, bottles, and even rolled-up magazines. It’s notable because grasping irregularly shaped and slippery items is an incredibly difficult task for most robots, and advances such as this will make it easier for robots to take up more roles in factories and homes.

This isn’t, of course, the first wriggly robot to slither onto the scene. British firm OC Robotics has built a a laser-toting serpentine arm to carve up decommissioned nuclear power hardware, while oil giant Statoil has helped develop a robotic snake designed for undersea inspection. And, at the gentler end of the spectrum, researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology have built a 20-meter-long inflatable arm made from helium-filled balloons.

It is, however, one of the more dextrous robot arms out there. But despite its rather uncanny abilities to seize objects, you shouldn’t be too worried by the device's physical capabilities. Festo explains that because the “materials installed in the structure are also elastic and deformable, the gripper poses no danger to the user in direct contact.” Phew. Could it grab away your job, though? That might be another matter altogether.

(Read more: Festo, “This Laser-Toting Tentacle Carves Up Old Nuclear Hardware,” “Robot, Get the Fork Out of My Sink,” “Chasing Nature”)

Keep up with the latest in intelligent machines at EmTech Digital.

The Countdown has begun.
March 25-26, 2019
San Francisco, CA

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to All Access Digital.
  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.