The Ultrasonic Gripper Can Hold Items Without Touching Them
Scientists from the University of Zurich have presented an ultrasonic gripper that allows one to hold objects without touching them. The device can be used in factories that work with small parts that are sensitive to touch.
The gripper uses ultrasound to hold objects in the air. Engineers are confident that improved versions of the device will allow robots to perform even the most delicate actions with various items.
The technology is based on an array of tiny speakers that emit sound at controlled loudness levels. They create a “pressure wave” that can hold an object or, if the pressure comes from multiple directions, move it.
The technique of acoustic levitation is not new, but researchers have not yet understood how it can be applied in practice.
The main problem during development concerned the calculation of specific frequencies and amplitudes that are necessary in order to keep an object in the air. Therefore, most of the work involved developing software that can be configured to work with a new object or move it in a certain way — by rotating, flipping or otherwise moving it at the user’s request.
Now scientists plan to conduct a survey for various industries and find out whether such a device can be useful for them. The researchers believe that the device can be used in manufacture, where small parts of products are sensitive to touch.
“Toothed gearwheels, for example, are first coated with lubricant, and then the thickness of this lubricant layer is measured. Even the faintest touch could damage the thin film of lubricant”, the researchers note.