For all that Willow Garage contributes to the robotics community, it's not often that they release new hardware. They've got the PR2, the TurtleBot, the
PR3 and PR4
(oops, we can't tell you about them yet, bwahahaha), and that's about it. So when Willow comes up with something new, it's usually worth paying attention, and they've announced a new 3D printed adaptive gripper design for the PR2: the Velo 2G.
As you can see, the nifty bit about the Velo 2G is the fact that it can passively adapt to all sorts of objects. By "passively adapt," we mean that you don't have to do any fancy programmin' to get the fingers to grip around an object: the gripper design itself takes care of it for you. This works on square things, round things, thin things, irregularly shaped things, and all kinds of other stuff that robots are likely to find lying around your house.
We should also mention that this overall design reminds us a lot of the adaptive two and three finger grippers they make over at Robotiq, although the Robotiq grippers use a mechanical linkage design as opposed to a tendon-driven design.
The Velo 2G is just an alpha prototype at the moment, and it's not for sale, but given the simple design, single actuator, and 3D printability, we're optimistic that when it does become available (at least in a research incarnation) this robot hand won't cost an arm and a leg. Zing! Thanks folks, we'll be here all week.
[ Velo 2G Gripper ]