OctopusGripper – a soft and very flexible manipulator-tentacle, created by German engineers from the company Festo. The soft manipulator is designed for strong grips of objects of different shapes – for this, in its design there are active and passive suckers very reminiscent of those of a real octopus.
The flexible tentacle does not have a rigid frame, it is elastic and very manoeuvrable, because it is made of soft silicone. The manipulator is controlled by means of a pneumatic pump which, at the right moment, pumps air into the cavity of the tentacle, allowing the invention to tighten the desired object, and if necessary, it is also easy to unclench the grip by evacuating air.
The developers note that the tentacle can be used next to people, helping, for example, to hold something, absolutely without risking anyone to harm, therefore separate zones for robots equipped with such manipulators are not required.
The company Festo has not yet reported whether the manipulator will be put into mass production, so it’s too early to draw conclusions about the usefulness of the invention, nevertheless already now the silicone tentacle demonstrates a strong grip and remarkable abilities.