News & Opinion | March 17, 2019 5:00 am

This Robot Gripper Looks Like a Flower But Can Lift 100 Times Its Own Weight

Robots don’t have to look like humans.

This robot can list 100 times its weight. (Jason Dorfman/MIT CSAIL)

Daniela Rus and her team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created a helpful robot “hand” that looks more like a rubber, wilted flower than anything out of a sci-fi movie.

Under the rubber skin is an origami-like skeleton shaped like a starfish; gas is pumped in and out of it to allow it to open and close.

“By combining this foldable skeleton with the soft exterior, we get the best of both worlds,” Rus explained to The Verge. “I’m excited about using such a robot hand to start grasping groceries.”

The average factory robot or robot hand wouldn’t be able to unpack your groceries without crushing the eggs or completely smashing the bread, but this new little flower-like hand can grasp things as delicate as grapes or something 100 times its own weight.

As companies like Amazon increase the use of robots in warehouses for sorting and moving packages from one place to the next, the business still uses humans to place and pack objects into the boxes. This new tech could remove the need for that human step.