Robots getting a grip with coffee grounds

You may use your old coffee grounds to feed your plants. For robots, they can use coffee grounds to grip things. Of course, this isn’t about the taste of coffee, but it’s fun news about the uses of our loved coffee beans. I hope those scientists aren’t using all the good ones!!

There is a highly scientific description available of what is going on, but allow me to say it in plain english.

When you have a bag of beans or coffee grounds that is ‘vacuum packed’, it is solid. You are not able to massage the beans inside of the bag around. When you open the bag, air is introduced between the beans and they can move over one another in a more fluid way.

Imagine if you can add/remove the air in the bag of beans quickly, as you want. Put the bag on the end of a robot arm, adding a bit of air so it can wrap around something. When you push the bag of beans over the edge of the surface, the bag molds to the edges, then remove the air from the bag. The bag says in that shape around the object, being very solid it is able to lift or move the object. Fun stuff… and if the bag gets a hole in it you have some beans to make a cup of coffee with while you repair the bag.

If you want the full techie take on the project, buzz over to Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory or the Cornell Online site. These images are from the Cornell Lab site: