Robotic tentacles for manipulating fragile objects

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Researches have developed robotic tentacles capable of grasping very fragile objects without damaging them. It is based on a different technology from that commonly used in robotic grippers.

The tentacles are the creation of Kaitlyn Becker´s team, from the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), linked to Harvard University in the United States.


Inspired by how jellyfish catch their prey, the new robotic gripper consists of a collection of slender tentacles that grasp objects by entangling them. Its system allows for handling heavy and odd-shaped objects with ease.

How robotic tentacle grippers work

Most of today’s robòtic grippers rely on integrated sensors, complex feedback loops, or Advanced machine learning algorithms, for gripping fragile or irregular-shaped objects. Instead, the new tentacles,  individually, are weak, but when combined, they are capable of safely grasping and holding things. And to work, the gripper is based on a simple inflation System, allowing objects to be wrapped, and it does not require detection, planning or feedback control.

The strength and flexibility of the gripper with tentacles come from its ability to curl up around the object that it tries to grab. One side of the tube is thicker than the other so that when the tube is pressurised, it bends. So, as each tentacle curves, they curl around the object they are touching. Although the grip is strong, the individual tentacles are weak and will not damage fragile objects. To release the object, simply depressurise the tentacles.

Possible uses and technological applications

To test the effectiveness of the gripper, the researchers carried out simulations and experiments with a variety of objects, from plants to toys.


The gripper could be used in real-world applications to grasp soft fruits and vegetables for agricultural production and distribution, delicate tissue in medical settings, and even irregularly shaped objects in warehouses, such as glassware.



Redacción. (2022, October 24). Tentáculos Robóticos. Noticias de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (Amazings® / NCYT®). Retrieved October 27, 2022, from

Hernández, G. (2022, October 24). Un robot con Tentáculos: Así es como este sistema es capaz de manipular "suavemente" desde plantas y hasta cristalería, Sin Romperlas. Xataka México - Tecnología y gadgets, móviles, informática, electrónica. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from 

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