Soft robots are getting smarter all the time. While they are capable handling objects of all sizes, they are limited in sensing. MIT researchers have come up with a new approach to let soft robots better perceive what they are interacting with.
The team developed a cone-shaped origami soft, strong robotic gripper that “collapses in on objects much like a Venus’ flytrap, to pick up items that are as much as 100 times its weight.” They used tactical sensors made from latex bladders connected to pressure transducers. These sensors let the grippers classify what they are picking up. Another soft robot finger (GelFlex) was developed with embedded cameras and deep learning for high resolution tactile sensing. More information is available here.