This video showcases some of my earlier explorations on soft robotic grippers. The video on the left is an anthropomorphic soft robotic hand with fiber-reinforce bending actuators for fingers. The gripper design on the right was inspired by (iHY) Hand where the tendon-driven fingers were replaced with soft bending actuators and a single servo rotates the bases of two fingers to adjust the gripper’s pose. Some of the salient features of soft finger actuators include no moving parts (which streamlines serviceability), complex motions with simple inputs (i.e. pressurized fluid), and delicate handling by distributing small conforming forces over large areas. The value proposition of this technology (i.e. adaptive, inexpensive, and simple to use) has been adopted by Soft Robotic Inc. in their commercially available grippers for picking and packing in unstructured environments.
In more recent work funded by the National Geographic Society, we are extending the reach of human exploration by attaching soft robotic grippers to a mechanical arm on an ROV and collecting delicate specimens on the deep reef. More on this will be reported in February 2016.