New Robot Shoots Hoops Like a Pro, Isn't as Good as Jeremy Lin

[Photo: John Amend, Cornell University]
A new robot is able to grip and fire (...and fire) any handheld object, making it great for sorting objects, throwing away trash, and playing basketball. The robot was built by a joint team from Cornell and the University of Chicago and, as you can see in the demo video (below), it’s able to shoot some tiny hoops with impressive accuracy.

What makes the robot unique is its unorthodox method of gripping objects. Unlike many robots that try to emulate the grip of a human hand, the Universal Gripper operates using a balloon. By filling the balloon with sand or another granular substance and then sucking all the air out of the balloon, the gripper contracts around the object to grip it tightly.

The robot can then fire off the object by quickly filling the balloon with air again. If you’re of a certain age, you might recognize this as the same basic principle that made your Stretch Armstrong work.

But, more importantly than all that science, this all means that last year’s basketball playing robot now has an opponent to play against.

[Cornel Creative Machines Lab via Geekosystem]

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