It was quite obvious from theory of gripping that geometric solutions using hand and finger anthropomorphy were one approach, just getting the grip done a different one.

Now here is a universal robot vacuum gripper, very cool and versatile:


When this hand comes in contact with an object, a small pipe sucks air from the sack, causing it to contract and mold to the object’s shape. The contraction is small—a mere 1% change in volume–but was enough to grab most objects the researchers tested. “It’s very simple to control,” notes Brown. “You don’t have all these joints.”

DIY universal robot gripper


Our friend Carlos made the Flexible Robot Gripper shown above. It’s based on the one made by a team at Cornell University, the University of Chicago and iRobot demonstrated in the video below. I wonder if this is the future of robot grippers? I worked in a company where the robot we were working with had the typical grippers and when programming them there was no room for error since a mm of error meant that the object was dropped. You can see the materials that Carlos used below, I am thinking that most of the build cost is tied up in the balloon.


  • party balloon (silver in my case)
  • piece of plastic tubing (I used a hose fitting I had lying around)
  • piece of cloth
  • Ground coffee (I use some very old coffee I found in my freezer)
  • A rubber band.
  • Functional lungs (unfortunately, my vacuum pump is dead)

That story is continued here.