Hold me gently! Or you know, don’t hold me at all. For researches have created an ultrasonic gripper that lets robots hold things without as much as touching them.
Magic, I tell you.
This is a downright amazing development, and absolutely necessary if robots are to find their places in hospitals, restaurants, factories and shops. The need for a light touch is something that the industry has been pursuing for a long time now, and it looks like we may be near a breakthrough.
That is because of this new creation, an ultrasonic gripper that uses sound waves to suspend an object in midair, may just be what the doctor ordered.
How it works is, via the use of an array of tiny speakers. These emit sound at very carefully controlled frequencies and volumes, which then produces a standing pressure wave that can hold an object up. And if the pressure is coming from multiple directions, the object can even be held in place.
Even moved around.
This acoustic levitation technique is not exactly new. We have seen it used previously. Though there have been no practical applications for it until now.
But as Marcel Schuck and his team at ETH Zurich have shown, a portable device like this could very well find a home in processes that involve very light handling of tiny objects. These may be small electric components, or items that need to be held without physical contact.
As noted, a working prototype is actually complete, with the team planning to poll various industries to see how such a device could be useful to them.