MAE students tell a gripping story for NASA

Photo by Sameer A. Khan Fotobuddy

When picturing a robot designed to do a human task, such as moving a delicate instrument, it’s logical to see it as something that looks like a human.

But when the Princeton Rocketry Club took on NASA’s annual challenge that has students design, build and test a tool or device to address a real space exploration challenge, they went in the opposite direction. Instead of designing a hand-like device that could take ice core samples and move instruments underwater, they designed a gripper that looks like a mini beanbag. It molds itself to an object, then air is sucked out of the device so it grabs onto and pulls whatever it’s been set to hold.