Marcel Schuck a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) is working on the development of a no-touch robotic gripper that can grip small and fragile objects without touching them using pressure points in Ultrasonic Sound Waves. Conventional robotic grippers are made of soft, rubber-like materials that are prone to damaging fragile objects and can offer only limited positioning accuracy.
This new type of Robotic Gripper consists of two headphone-like hemispheres that emit ultrasonic sound waves from speakers attached along the inner surface. Ultrasound waves create a pressure field that cannot be seen or heard by humans. The points in the field where waves overlap are pressure points used to trap small objects. This creates the impression that the object is levitating between the two semi-spheres.
The acoustic gripper eliminates the need for an extensive set of expensive high-precision grippers. The grippers also provide another economic benefit of not having to be changed the grippers every time the shape of the object to be gripped differs. Currently, the technology is in the prototype stage. The researcher hopes to start a company to push the new gripper.