These amazing task based grippers & crawlers are relatively easy to build compared to their cyborg mechanical counterparts.
Using a 3-D printer to make a mold & selecting materials with the right mechanical properties, it should be possible to make devices in a wide range of sizes. The gripper, a small six-pointed star, is made of two types of rubber, one softer and more extensible than the other. Air or fluid is pumped into microchannels in the device through a small tube, the softer rubber extends more and introduces curvature. Properly choreographed, this is translated into a functionally working activity. Researchers in George Whitesides lab at Harvard University, showed off a soft rubber gripper picking up an uncooked egg and an anesthetized mouse without damaging them.
Guest post by Joshua Harker