A Positive Pressure Universal Gripper Based on the Jamming of Granular Material


J. R. Amend, E. Brown, N. Rodenberg, H. M. Jaeger, and H. Lipson, “A Positive Pressure Universal Gripper Based on the Jamming of Granular Material,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics , vol. 28, no. 2, 2012.


We describe a simple passive universal gripper, consisting of a mass of granular material encased in an elastic membrane. Using a combination of positive and negative pressure, the gripper can rapidly grip and release a wide range of objects that are typically challenging for universal grippers, such as flat objects, soft objects, or objects with complex geometries. The gripper passively conforms to the shape of a target object, then vacuum-hardens to grip it rigidly, later utilizing positive pressure to reverse this transition-releasing the object and returning to a deformable state. We describe the mechanical design and implementation of this gripper and quantify its performance in real-world testing situations. By using both positive and negative pressure, we demonstrate performance increases of up to 85% in reliability, 25% in error tolerance, and the added capability to shoot objects by fast ejection. In addition, multiple objects are gripped and placed at once while maintaining their relative distance and orientation. We conclude by comparing the performance of the proposed gripper with others in the field.