Robotic Gripper Runs on Coffee and Balloons - Updated with video
I'm just on FIAH with these Topics. But this one's cool too.
Via ScienceDaily: A collaboration between researchers from Cornell, University of Chicago, and iRobot has resulted in a robot gripper that conforms to practically any object. From the article:
Here's how it works: An everyday party balloon filled with ground coffee -- any variety will do -- is attached to a robotic arm. The coffee-filled balloon presses down and deforms around the desired object, and then a vacuum sucks the air out of the balloon, solidifying its grip. When the vacuum is released, the balloon becomes soft again, and the gripper lets go.
This sounds like another hi-tech device that could easily be duplicated by a DIYer. All you need is a balloon, coffee grounds, and a vacuum pump.
Update 2 November: Found the video! It gives a much better idea of how the thing works.
Via, image from same.