Exciting change is on the way! Please join us at nsf.gov for the latest news on NSF-funded research. While the NSF Science360 page and daily newsletter have now been retired, there’s much happening at nsf.gov. You’ll find current research news on the homepage and much more to explore throughout the site. Best of all, we’ve begun to build a brand-new website that will bring together news, social media, multimedia and more in a way that offers visitors a rich, rewarding, user-friendly experience.

Want to continue to receive email updates on the latest NSF research news and multimedia content? On September 23rd we’ll begin sending those updates via GovDelivery. If you’d prefer not to receive them, please unsubscribe now from Science360 News and your email address will not be moved into the new system.

Thanks so much for being part of the NSF Science360 News Service community. We hope you’ll stay with us during this transition so that we can continue to share the many ways NSF-funded research is advancing knowledge that transforms our future.

For additional information, please contact us at NewsTravels@nsf.gov

Top Story

Robot hand is soft and strong

Fifty years ago, the first industrial robot arm (called Unimate) assembled a simple breakfast of toast, coffee and champagne. While it might have looked like a seamless feat, every movement and placement was coded with careful consideration. Even with today's more intelligent and adaptive robots, this task remains difficult for machines with rigid hands. They tend to work only in structured environments with predefined shapes and locations, and typically can't cope with uncertainties in placement or form. In recent years, though, roboticists have come to grips with this problem by making fingers out of soft, flexible materials like rubber. This pliability lets these soft robots pick up anything from grapes to boxes and empty water bottles, but they're still unable to handle large or heavy items. To give these soft robots a bit of a hand, National Science Foundation-funded researchers have developed a new gripper that's both soft and strong: a cone-shaped origami structure that collapses in on objects, much like a Venus flytrap, to pick up items that are as much as 100 times its weight. This motion lets the gripper grasp a much wider range of objects -- such as soup cans, hammers, wine glasses, drones and even a single broccoli floret.

Visit Website | Image credit: Jason Dorfman/MIT CSAIL