Super-Friction Gecko Gripper Can Grasp Large Objects Without Squeezing

Most robotic grippers grasp objects with normal forces, either directly or indirectly, through friction. This method of grasping is effective for objects small enough for a given gripper to partially encompass. However, to grasp larger objects, significant grip forces and a high coefficient of friction are required. A team of Stanford University mechanical engineers have presented a new grasping method for convex objects, using almost exclusively shear forces, at ICRA 2015 in Seattle, WA. The engineers achieve shear grasping with a gripper that utilizes thin film gecko-inspired fibrillar adhesives that conform to the curvature of the object. This video shows the new conformal gecko adhesive film in action. It is very grippy yet not sticky at all. The video shows how the film can 'palm' a basketball, yet still grab and release a balloon under its own weigh.