While humankind has made great strides in creating Terminator-like robotic appendages, we’re still a ways from an artificial arm that moves and acts precisely like a flesh-and-blood appendage. Yet, a team of MIT technologists recently created a robot gripper that might help pave the path for one.

The Origami Robot Gripper is a robotic arm featuring a 3D printed silicone grip that contorts around an object to carry. At the machine’s heart is a gripper-to mount connector surrounded with silicone skin. Whenever the gripper closes in on an object, a vacuum collapses the silicone around it, effectively grasping the item without crushing it—and it’s capable of doing so for objects that are up to a hundred times its own weight.

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Inspired by the “magic ball” origami design, which is folded from a rectangular shape into a spherical one, the Origami Robot Gripper (they really need a shorter name for it) is meant to be a versatile hand which can conform itself to a wide variety of objects—regardless of the complexity of the shape.

origami gripper

What’s really cool is even with the ability to carry a hundred times its own weight, the gripper doesn’t crush objects, but instead uses the strength to get a firmer hold on them.

origami gripper

According to MIT professor Daniela Rus, one of her early plans is to make a robot capable of automatically packing groceries. After proving they can make a machine with a versatile grip, Rus hopes the technology will be used to pack eggs, different fruits and vegetables, and packages with weird designs (such as every shampoo bottle in existence).

origami gripper

Read professor Rus’ research paper on the Origami Robot Gripper in-full over at MIT.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.