Robot arm picks up anything

A team of researchers from Cornell, University of Chicago and iRobot, have created a robot gripper that can pick up almost any small object. It uses the jamming of particulate material inside an elastic bag to hold on to things, as opposed to traditional designs modelled around the human hand.

The gripper consists of a rubber membrane around a granular material that can form around objects, then grab them when a vacuum pump is used to harden the material. The gripper was designed to allow robots to pick up various objects without a lot of computational overhead.