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This article was published on March 31, 2017

This octopus-like robot arm grips objects and doesn’t let go

This octopus-like robot arm grips objects and doesn’t let go
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

A German robotics company recently created a machine that uses a mechanical octopus tentacle to complete simple tasks.

OctopusGripper, as it’s appropriately named, is capable of picking up, holding, and putting down small objects. Using octopus-like suckers, and compressed air, the robot moves and functions much like its natural counterpart. The company behind the machine, Festo, writes:

The gripper consists of a soft silicone structure, which can be pneumatically controlled. If compressed air is applied to it, the tentacle bends inwards and can wrap around the respective item which is being gripped in a form-fitting and gentle manner.

Once wrapped around the object, the tentacle applies a vacuum to the suction cups. The combination of air and two rows of octopus-like suckers keeps the object secure and enables the arm itself to hold a variety of shapes.

The OctopusGripper might not even be Festo’s strangest creation. It’s clear from the company’s YouTube page that it takes a lot of its inspiration from things found in the natural world — like this really badass butterfly robot concept.

I’m intrigued by the work Festo is doing, but I feel like we’ve been down this road before.