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Gentle strength


Origami techniques can help vehicles achieve greater stability, whatever the terrain.

Whereas, less stable objects can be lifted by robots with grippers made from soft materials such as cloth or silicon. Though useful, these grippers’ low load capacity is a limiting factor.

Enter a Seoul-based research team, which is using a centuries old technique so that robots can grasp weightier objects. For their grappler, thin strips made from PET plastic were woven together. Result?

The robot’s 130g gripper became more stable, while also increasing its load capacity fivefold to 100kg. In future, the technique could be adapted for other materials like rubber.

There are also 3D-printed grippers for unusually-shaped objects, or indeed this microhydraulic robot inspired by an elephant’s trunk.

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