The Venus flytrap is basically a carnivorous plant native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina. It catches its prey using a trapping structure formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves, triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. What happens when you take the terminal portion and turn it into a robotic grabber? Materials scientist Wenlong Li and colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore decided to find out. Read more for a video and additional information.
By implementing this soft, flexible plant material into robotics, arms could be used to pick up fragile objects that would otherwise be damaged traditional graspers. To test this theory, the team of scientists attached the terminal piece to a robotic arm and then used a smartphone app to control the trap. It turned out to be a success, as it was able to grasp a wire one-half of a millimeter in diameter.
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