Video Friday: Chameleon Gripper, Swarmie Robots, and Superman With GoPro

If sticky tongues aren't your thing, we've got lots more robot videos for you

4 min read

Video Friday: Chameleon Gripper, Swarmie Robots, and Superman With GoPro
'My tongue is stronger than yours, hah hah!'
Photo: Festo

Along with their new insect robots, Festo also introduced a new gripper yesterday. It’s modeled on a chameleon tongue, but instead of being sticky and shooting out like a projectile, it’s a silicone balloon full of water. Try and figure out how it works after the break.

This is a sort of like a jamming gripper, except that instead of a granular material, the silicone balloon is filled with water. To grasp an object, the balloon wraps itself around the object, thanks to a pressurized chamber and pneumatic valves. Confused? Here’s how Festo explains it:

“The gripper consists of a double-acting cylinder, of which one chamber is filled with compressed air whilst the second one is permanently filled with water. This second chamber is fitted with elastic silicone moulding, which equates to the chameleon’s tongue. The volume of the two chambers is designed so that the deformation of the silicone part is compensated. The piston, which closely separates the two chambers from each other, is fastened with a thin rod on the inside of the silicone cap. 

During the gripping procedure, a handling system guides the gripper across the object so that it touches the article with its silicone cap. The top pressurised chamber is then vented. The piston moves upwards by means of a spring support and the water-filled silicone part pulls itself inwards. Simultaneously, the handling system guides the gripper further across the object. In doing so, the silicone cap wraps itself around the object to be gripped, which can be of any shape, resulting in a tight form fit. The elastic silicone allows a precise adaptation to a wide range of different geometries. The high static friction of the material generates a strong holding force.

Both the holding and the release mechanism are triggered pneumatically. No additional energy is necessary for the holding process. The yielding quality of the compressible compressed air simplifies the coordination between the handling system and gripper during the grip stage. The force and the deformation of the silicone part can be set very precisely with the aid of a proportional valve. This allows several parts to be gripped at once in a single procedure.

Got it? Excellent. If you have any more questions, and I can’t imagine that you do, there’s more info (a little bit more) at the link below. Oh, and we should definitely mention that the FlexShapeGripper was developed in partnership with the University of Oslo.

[ FlexShapeGripper ]

This is very awesome, and just barely robot-y enough to justify its inclusion this week:

Projection Mapping has recently generated much attention, and can be applied to areas such as performance art and human-computer interfaces. Projection Mapping typically targets static or semi-static objects, and few systems can deal with dynamic objects due to a large delay from measurement to projection. The delay results in significant misalignment in the case of dynamic objects, and leads to discomfort.

In order to achieve robust Dynamic Projection Mapping, we introduce a retroreflective background to the Lumipen system. As a result, the object will appear darker than the background during projection, which is observed using a high-speed camera. The tracking will therefore be robust to changes of the content of the projection such as movies, and changes of environmental lighting in the object's vicinity associated with its motion. The tracking technique enables Dynamic Projection Mapping with partially well-lit content and time-geometric consistency. This opens up for new applications of Projection Mapping, such as visualizing a pitched ball as a fire ball. 

Dude. Stop bouncing the Earth.

[ Lumipen 2 Project ]

Happy third birthday to ROS Industrial! Have a montage!

[ ROS-I ]

We wrote about NASA’s Swarmie robots last year, and now we’re getting a look at them wandering around outside at Kennedy Space Center:

[ Swarmies ]

Water is critical for human existence, whether on our planet or distant destinations. In support of future space exploration, researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center are searching for water closer to home -- in the desert near the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California.

The Mojave Volatiles Prospector, or MVP project, is a test bed for scientists from Ames to develop the technologies and procedures that will be needed to search for water ice and other volatiles that might be hidden under the surface of the Moon, Mars or another planetary body.

This poor robot is probably wondering why the heck it’s spending so much time looking for water when it never gets thirsty.

[ K-REX ]

The Crabster CR2000 has achieved a new top speed of 0.5 knots, or 0.25 meter per second for you landlubbers:

And for a very creepy effect, here it is in time lapse:


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a robot be more careful than this when picking up a block. At least the music is nice and soothing while you wait for it to get its alignment juuust right:

Read more about MarXbot’s new gripper here.

[ ASCENS Project ]

Is it close enough to April 1 to start posting April Fool’s videos? Sure it is!

The robotic lawn mower, we should probably point out, is real.

[ RoboMow ]

“Autonomy Incubator” makes me think of a hen sitting on a clutch of little tiny robots. That’s not what this is.

Now I want a hen sitting on a clutch of little tiny robots.

[ NASA Langley Autonomy Incubator ]

Hey! Human! WAKE UP!

I love how the robot is like, “Milk and corn flakes? Ignorant human, that’s just fat and carbs. You’re getting an apple and some water and you’re going to like it.” Also, I’m assuming that if you don’t wake up, the robot will shake you with its arm. Because that is what I need in the mornings.

[ University of Koblenz ]

Remember the Affetto child robot head? Looks like it’s finally getting a body, or at least a torso, and it features a bio-inspired design with flexible joints.

[ Project Affetto ]

PBS News Hour did a segment on robots and Ebola, and I can only assume that’s because they read one of our articles on the topic from late last year. They talked with CRASAR’s Dr. Robin Murphy, and got some nifty robot demos:

[ CRASAR ] via [ PBS ]

We know that everybody is getting a little bit tired of drone videos, but this one is worth your time, we promise:

Via [ Motherboard ]

CMU comes through with our final vid this Friday: a beefy seminar from Stanford’s Mark Cutkosky on “Bio-Inspired Dynamic Surface Grasping.”

[ CMU Robotics Institute ]

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