SBIR Phase I: An Innovative Robotic Jamming Gripper
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop an innovative robotic gripper that leverages the unique jamming behavior of granular materials to enable a device that can passively conform to objects of varying shape and then vacuum harden to grip them rigidly. These jamming grippers are a unique solution to the need for agile gripping and manipulation of arbitrarily shaped objects with a single gripper ? a need that occurs in manufacturing robotics, prosthetics, and increasingly in home and healthcare robotics. Initial results published in top scientific journals have demonstrated successful implementation of this technique in a laboratory setting. The research objectives of this project are aimed at bringing this innovation out of the lab and demonstrating commercial feasibility. The objectives are: 1) iterative testing and optimization of the outer membrane material for performance and durability that meet industrial thresholds; 2) testing and optimization of granular materials to improve gripper performance and manufacturability; 3) testing grippers of varying size to quantify the influence of scaling on performance; and 4) demonstrating specific manufacturing tasks requested by industry advisors and potential customers. Successful completion of this project will position the team for immediate scale up and production of deliverable units. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is realized by comparing the proposed jamming gripper technology to existing solutions. Alternative robotic gripping solutions range (in increasing price) from vacuum suction cups, to basic jawed grippers, to customized or specialty grippers, and finally to complex multi-fingered hands. The simplicity of the proposed jamming gripper enables a one to two orders of magnitude price reduction over current grippers that achieve similar performance. The first target market will be industrial manufacturing, focusing on tasks where variations in object shape are prevalent (e.g. food handling, pharmaceuticals, bin picking, and kitting/assembly). This gripper is also uniquely positioned to create its own niche market in the simple, repetitive tasks in manufacturing that must currently be performed by human laborers due to prohibitive costs of automation. This will take workers out of uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions, and improve accuracy and efficiency for rate-limiting manufacturing steps. With 3.6 jobs created for each robot employed, this could revitalize small manufacturers struggling to compete today. The flexibility and low cost of a jamming gripper makes it a more agile and reusable component, allowing companies to vary their products more broadly without manufacturing line changes or purchases of new equipment.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Empire Robotics, Inc.
209 N Aurora St Ithaca, NY 14850-4303
Number of Employees: