A new soft robotic gripper made out of rubber and stretchable electrodes can bend and pick up delicate objects like eggs and paper. It uses electroadhesion – flexible electrode flaps that act like a thumb-index gripper – to pick up fragile objects of arbitrary shape and stiffness, like an egg, a water balloon, or paper.

When the voltage is turned on, the electrodes bend towards the object to be picked up, imitating muscle function. The tip of the electrodes act like fingertips that gently conform to the shape of the object, gripping onto it with electrostatic forces in the same way that the balloon sticks to the wall. These electrodes can carry 80 times its own weight and no prior knowledge about the object's shape is necessary.