With Electroadhesion, Robotic Fingers Are Getting Closer to the Real Thing

If sci-fi has taught us anything, it's that humans are no match for brute robot strength. But what about those tasks that require a tender touch? Scientists at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) research institute have developed robot fingers made of rubber and stretchable electrodes that, according to the above video from the school, are capable of grabbing "almost any shaped object," including a flat piece of paper or an egg.

"This is the first time that electroadhesion and soft robotics have been combined together to grasp objects," EPFL doctoral student Jun Shintake said in a release. Electroadhesion is what causes a balloon to stick to an wall after being rubbed on your head. The research behind the technology was recently published in Advanced Materials.

When a voltage is applied to the electrode fingers, they bend toward an object in a similar fashion to the muscles in our fingers, albeit with very different hardware. The electrodes can conform to a given shape—offering a level of adaptability not normally seen in the robot world.

Even with the gentle handling, the robotic device is still impressively strong. The electroadhesion force gives the fingers the ability to lift objects that are 80 times the weight of the gripper. The technology could one day be used in food handling, grabbing debris in space, and even in prosthetic hands.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Images via YouTube.

© 2017 USPS
Pop Culture
Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

Can You Spot the Christmas Pudding?

Whether it’s a sheep hanging out with Santa Claus or a panda bear hiding among some snowmen, regular Mental Floss readers know that hidden picture brainteasers are one of our favorite things. And the optical experts at have released a delicious one, just in time for Christmas. Somewhere in the midst of all these holiday-themed goodies above, there’s a holiday pudding just waiting to be discovered. Can you spot it? Your time starts … now.

If you give up, or are the kind of person who reads the last page of a book before the first one and just wants to know the answer, scroll down to see where it’s hiding.



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