Latest Empire Robotics News
May 13, 2015
Empire Robotics Soft robotics Soft Robots The word “robot” summons an image of a stiffly moving metallic machine. But imagine a new generation of supple robots that could go about their work with a gentle touch. Those machines are here. Last year, Cambridge startup Soft Robotics debuted a robotic hand that operates with strong but flexible fingers. Powered by air, it can pick up a 10-pound kettlebell but also grasp a bag of chips without damaging the contents. Unlike fingers made of harder materials, these rubber grippers can pick and package fruit and vegetables without leaving a bruise. Empire Robotics, located in Boston’s Innovation District, has radically re-imagined the future of robotic hands by eliminating the fingers. Instead, the rotund rubber “grippers” work like beanbags, enveloping an object, then hardening around it to get a grip. Empire Robotics started out as an experiment in Cornell mechanical engineer Hod Lipson’s lab, where prototypes were made of balloons filled with coffee beans. Empire’s grippers could soon be at work at consumer-goods factories, picking up bottles of shampoo and nail polish. Empire Robotics and Soft Robotics are among the Boston Globe’s Game Changers this year. Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research for BetaBoston. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.