Harvard Gives Robots Tentacles, The Rest Of Us Nightmares

09.12.12 5 years ago

First things first: For the sake of maturity, taste, and originality, we will not be making any jokes about Japan or its cultural traditions. Besides, once you see this thing in action, the torches and pitchforks jokes make more sense.

Robots have a problem: Metal hands. This only sounds fun until you realize it limits the robot’s ability to interact with the world. Metal hands are great for picking up durable objects, but for something that needs a light touch, they’re much trickier to use.

Fortunately, the solution is simple, elegant, and ensures you’ll never sleep again: Harvard scientists have designed tentacles for robots to use.

Why is it the most brilliant engineering tends to make us want to keep a loaded shotgun handy at all times?

And the engineering is brilliant. Essentially these robo-tentacles are three twisty balloons made of soft plastic placed next to each other. You fill them with air in different proportions and it creates bends that allow it to grip an object firmly, but also gently enough that it can hold a flower without damaging it.

Then again, it looks like this:

Granted this isn’t nearly as bad as that terrifying robot mouth the Japanese put together, but dear God, how many people ran from the lab screaming “KILL IT! KILL IT!”?

This is just a concept for now, but expect it to be on robots fairly soon. And in your nightmares tonight!

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