a team of technologists at MIT have developed a robot gripper that uses a 3D-printed origami structure to lift up to 100 times its own weight. the cone-shaped gripper comprises three parts — a 3D-printed, 16-piece silicone rubber skeleton with a gripper-to-mount connector encased by an airtight skin. 


a vacuum collapses the origami-inspired gripper which then closes around the object functioning like a stronghold grasp. the soft robot gripper can adapt to the shape of whatever it’s grabbing without compromising its strength. this allows it to pick up delicate objects without harming them, while still maintaining a strong enough grip to lift 100 times its own weight.

an origami robot gripper could help pack your groceries in the future

images courtesy of jason dorfman – MIT CSAIL



the device is subject to a newly published paper, ‘a vacuum-driven origami ‘magic-ball’ soft gripper‘ which explores versatile systems in place of robotic hands. it was inspired by the ‘magic ball,’ an origami design that’s folded from a rectangular piece of paper to create a spherical and cylindrical shape.


one of my moonshots is to create a robot that can automatically pack groceries for you,’ mit professor daniela rus, director of csail and one of the paper’s senior authors, said in a statement. ‘previous approaches to the packing problem could only handle very limited classes of objects — objects that are very light or objects that conform to shapes such as boxes and cylinders, but with the … gripper system, we’ve shown that we can do pick-and-place tasks for a large variety of items ranging from wine bottles to broccoli, grapes, and eggs.


video by MITCSAIL