Ultrasonic Gripper Robot Acoustic Levitation
Photo credit: ETH Zürich | Stefan Weiss
Researchers at ETH Zürich have developed an ultrasonic gripper that can pick up and manipulate small objects without even touching them, thanks to acoustic levitation. In other words, it uses ultrasonic waves to enable robots to handle fragile items, like precision watch parts. Currently, the prototype consists of a lab-bench robotic arm and a pair of 3D-printed semi-spheres. Read more for two videos and additional information.



ETH Pioneer Fellow Marcel Schuck’s gripper boasts an array of very small speakers installed inside the two semi-spheres and with software written by ETH doctoral student Marc Röthlisberger, the pressure points can be precisely controlled. The eventual goal is to have such control in real-time, thus allowing a robot to suspend, move, or manipulate the object without even touching it and at a low cost.

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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,” said Schuck.