The Vexmen of Brandywine Robotics

Blog Post

Cool Starfish Robot

A friend forwarded this link to me. It is a Jellyfish-like robot made by some researchers at Harvard that moves around through pneumatics curling each arm. Apparently, it can fit in a space under 2cm! How many Vex robots can do that? (It’s kind of cheating since the tubes are sticking out the other end. They don’t show that part squuezing through.)

While it does not exactly look competition legal to use elastic polymers in Vex, can you imagine a gripper using this design? You could grasp pretty flexibly around your scoring object at will with more slop in your alignment. The pneumatics would move each of the starfish arms independently to get a good solid hold of the game piece. Score! You’ll run out of ports for the valve solenoids pretty quick though.
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It seems like the pneumatics blow air into each arm independently so it extends its finger out. The polymer then shrinks or curls back once the air is evacuated. Put these together in some complex movements, you can get a walking starfish.

Other uses for this elastic polymer is for making artificial robot gloves and hands. If you add soem sensors in there you could make it grip with a certain strength or stop on the slightest touch.

Maybe you could put this with some Gecko grip to have it climb walls or other surfaces. Way cool!

Other links to this robot

Redorbit article
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Video of it in action

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