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Geckos inspire gripper that can grasp almost anything

31 March, 2023

The Chinese-American robotics developer Flexiv has announced a “revolutionary” robotic gripper that can lift almost anything that fits in its grasp, including oddly shaped items or those with uneven surface textures. Flexiv says that the Grav gripper, which uses an adhesive material modelled on geckos’ feet, represents the next generation of robotic grippers.

The gripper incorporates a force-control capability which enables it to sense resistive forces in the sub-gramme region. It can insert micro-components, transfer delicate objects or be used for machine-tending.

Designed to reduce the frequency of end-of-arm tool changes, the gripper was originally designed for use with Flexiv’s Rizon adaptive force-control robots. However, testing with user who also operated traditional cobots (collaborative robots) showed that there was a demand beyond the company’s existing customers.

“We have been working on the Grav gripper for a while, as we wanted one which utilised the same industrial-grade force control as the Rizon line of adaptive robots,” explains Ryan Coulson, Flexiv’s lead mechatronics engineer. “Not only have we successfully implemented force control, but we have also given the gripper the ability to handle traditionally difficult objects like spheres thanks to the gecko material.”

The Grav gripper can hold awkward shapes and surfaces, such as those of a balloon

Flexiv’s adaptive robots use a universal end-of-arm socket. Only minor modifications have been needed to make the new gripper compatible with other cobots.

Flexiv:  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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