North Carolina State University researchers have been working on a robotic gripping device with incredible versatility. The researchers said the single soft gripper could be helpful in food processing, electronics and pharmaceuticals manufacturing, agriculture, and deep-sea exploration.
Co-author of a paper on the project, Yaoye Hong, said the single gripper is built upon principles drawn from kirigami, a Japanese technique that involves folding and cutting two-dimensional materials to craft three-dimensional structures. Hong added that users could craft the grippers from biodegradable materials, a solution for scenarios where the grippers are used for a limited period, like when handling biomedical materials or food.
The single gripper weighs just under half a gram and can lift as much as 6.4 kilograms. The paper’s other author, Jie Yin, explained that a single gripper’s payload-to-weight ratio, which typically measures a robotic gripper’s strength, is approximately 16,000. According to NC State, this breaks the previous payload-to-weight ratio record of 6,400.