Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


A Flexible, Air-Filled Robot Tentacle With a Light Touch

80beatsBy Valerie RossSeptember 13, 2012 8:11 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

While robots have long been invaluable when it comes to doing all sorts of heavy lifting, they lack a gentle touch. Hefting around auto parts is easy enough, but transporting eggs or glassware poses a significant challenge. Scientists have now, however, made a flexible plastic robot tentacle that can, among other dexterities, pick flowers without crushing them, the latest of several robot appendages made of softer materials and able to accomplish delicate tasks. The researchers control the tentacle by pumping air through three separate channels, giving it a wide range of motion and letting it reconfigure to grasp a variety of objects without being limited by the shape of its grip. The parts for the bot---mostly elastomer tubing---cost less than $10, far cheaper than the complex components of many far less flexible robotic hands. To get a glimpse of the hand in action, watch it pick up a horseshoe in the clip below:

Image courtesy of Wiley

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 50%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In