The “universal gripper” developed by researchers from Cornell University, the University of Chicago, and iRobot inspired me to create my own version. The YouTube video is quite impressive. The gripper can form around very asymmetrical and smooth shapes and still pick up the object.
I gathered the materials below and decided to create a gripper of my own that could be incorporated into one of my robot designs. Adding a vacuum pump or a powerful air mover seemed difficult and probably unnecessary. So I started to think about vacuums.
I remembered that when they were filming “An American Werewolf in London” that Rick Baker used hypodermic syringes hooked up in a line. When a really big syringe was compressed at the end of the line, the little ones popped up creating the appearance of a spinal column erupting below the skin of the creature’s back.
I decided that the same idea might work with the “universal gripper.”
In addition, I thought that using a funnel could work nicely for balloon support. Playing around with it, I thought that adding a pressure sensor inside of the funnel would allow the Arduino to apply suction when the balloon came into contact with the object to pick up. This lead me to Plusea and her instructables using velostat and flexible materials.
Amazingly, it all seem to work. Follow these steps to see how I did it. You can probably see alterations that would improve the design.
Step 1: Materials
- Good quality latex balloon
- Aquarium plastic tubing
- 60 ml veterinarian syringe
- 11/64” brass tubing
- zip ties
- Bond 527 cement
- Conductive thread
- Craft foam
- some #6 bolts and nuts
- 5 cm of U channel aluminum
- TowerPro servo MG995
- flat stock aluminum
- an Arduino or other microprocessor