Daniela Rus is a professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The latest work from her team at MIT is a robot gripper that’s designed to pick up objects, but its looks are unconventional, to say the least. Visually, it has more in common with a rubber tulip or a deflated balloon than a sci-fi robot hand.
It’s this unique look that makes the gripper so potentially useful. Underneath its rubber skin is an origami skeleton that’s shaped like starfish. As gas is pumped in and out of the gripper’s airtight enclosure, the whole device opens and closes like a flower.
The device is able to pick up delicate objects without harming them, while still maintaining a strong enough grip to lift 100 times its own weight. “By combining this foldable skeleton with the soft exterior, we get the best of both worlds,” Rus told The Verge. “I’m excited about using such a robot hand to start grasping groceries.”