Empire Robotics, Inc. specializes in flexible robotic end-effectors that leverage the jamming phase transition of granular materials. Founded in 2012, Empire's team of soft robotics experts, materials scientists, and experienced automation engineers are serving diverse technology fields including agile manufacturing automation and collaborative robotics. Across a broad range of applications, Empire's products enable secure grasping and manipulation of widely varying objects with a single inexpensive tool.
The core principle behind VERSABALL is the jamming phase transition of granular materials. The green ball is filled with a sand like material. When air is pumped into the ball, the ball softens. The ball is then pushed against the target object. Pulling air out of the ball jams the sand like material together, causing the ball to harden. This transition from soft to hard creates the gripping forces.
Different object shapes have very different gripping dynamics and as a result very different grip strengths. Friction from pinching, entrapment or capture, and vacuum suction are all possible grip forces.