Robot beanbag hand can grip anything  OCT 28 2010

I am unclear on exactly how this works, but it does work amazingly well.

The gripper uses the same phenomenon that makes a vacuum -- packed bag of ground coffee so firm; in fact, ground coffee worked very well in the device. But the researchers found a new use for this everyday phenomenon: They placed the elastic bag against a surface and then removed the air from the bag, solidifying the ground coffee inside and forming a tight grip. When air is returned to the bag, the grip relaxes.

(thx, phil)

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