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Innovative Soft Robotics Technology Spawns New Products

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January 14, 2014

The robot gripper invented by researchers at the University of Chicago and Cornell University is now available commercially. Empire Robotics, the company founded to commercialize the invention, is taking orders for the limited first release of its product, called Versaball, scheduled to ship later this month.

“When we first started with the universal jamming gripper we did not think about industrial applications,” said Heinrich Jaeger, the William J. Friedman and Alica Townsend Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. “But soon there were inquiries from various companies and in those early days we had to tell them that we are in basic research rather than R&D and that therefore we could not really make robotic grippers for sale.”

But since then John Amend, one of Jaeger’s Cornell collaborators, has cofounded Empire Robotics to bring the robot gripper technology to market. Amend, the company’s chief technology officer, developed much of the core technology as a PhD student at Cornell.

“With our grippers we’re able to handle a wide range of different objects on the same manufacturing line. We get a lot of requests for objects with holes in the center like hex-nuts, glass or plastic bottles, and objects that have odd shapes or shapes that vary between the individual parts,” Amend said. Read More…

 

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