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Octopus-Inspired Robot Can Grip, Move, and Manipulate a Wide Range of Objects – Lab Manager Magazine

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Researchers have developed an octopus-inspired robot can grip, move, and manipulate a wide range of objects.  

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Of all the cool things about octopuses (and there’s a lot), their arms may rank among the coolest.

Two-thirds of an octopus’s neurons are in its arms, meaning each arm literally has a mind of its own. Octopus arms can untie knots, open childproof bottles, and wrap around prey of any shape or size. The hundreds of suckers that cover their arms can form strong seals even on rough surfaces underwater.

Imagine if a robot could do all that.

Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Beihang University have developed an octopus-inspired soft robotic arm that can grip, move, and manipulate a wide range of objects. Its flexible, tapered design, complete with suction cups, gives the gripper a firm grasp on objects of all shapes, sizes and textures—from eggs to iPhones to large exercise balls.


Related Article: Chameleon’s Tongue Strike Inspires Fast-Acting Robots


“Most previous research on octopus-inspired robots focused either on mimicking the suction or the movement of the arm, but not both,” said August Domel, a recent PhD graduate of Harvard and co-first author of the paper. “Our research is the first to quantify the tapering angles of the arms and the combined functions of bending and suction, which allows for a single small gripper to be used for a wide range of objects that would otherwise require the use of multiple grippers.”

The research is published in Soft Robotics.

The researchers began by studying the tapering angle of real octopus arms and quantifying which design for bending and grabbing objects would work best for a soft robot. Next, the team looked at the layout and structure of the suckers (yes, that is the scientific term) and incorporated them into the design.

The soft robot is controlled with two valves, one to apply pressure for bending the arm and one for a vacuum that engages the suckers. By changing the pressure and vacuum, the arm can attach to any object, wrap around it, carry it, and release it.

courtesy of the Bertoldi Lab/Harvard SEAS

“We mimicked the general structure and distribution of these suckers for our soft actuators,” said co-first author Zhexin Xie, a PhD student at Beihang University. “Although our design is much simpler than its biological counterpart, these vacuum-based biomimetic suckers can attach to almost any object.”

Xie is the co-inventor of the Festo Tentacle Gripper, which is the first fully integrated implementation of this technology in a commercial prototype.

Researchers control the arm with two valves, one to apply pressure for bending the arm and one for a vacuum that engages the suckers. By changing the pressure and vacuum, the arm can attach to an object, wrap around it, carry it, and release it.

The researchers successfully tested the device on many different objects, including thin plastic sheets, coffee mugs, test tubes, eggs, and even live crabs. The tapering also allowed the arm to squeeze into confined spaces and retrieve objects.

“The results from our study not only provide new insights into the creation of next-generation soft robotic actuators for gripping a wide range of morphologically diverse objects, but also contribute to our understanding of the functional significance of arm taper angle variability across octopus species,” said Katia Bertoldi, the William and Ami Kuan Danoff Professor of Applied Mechanics at SEAS, and co-senior author of the study.

This press release was originally published on the Harvard SEAS website

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PS4 Sold 6 Units A Minute, PS5 Is Selling Nearly 1,000 – Forbes

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Just how insane is PlayStation 5 demand? Sony came up with a striking comparison in a recent presentation about the future of the brand, and the current situation of console sales.

We all know that PS5s are selling out instantly whenever they appear…anywhere, but Sony explains just how fast the system is selling compared to its predecessor:

  • In the US, at this stage of the console’s lifecycle, the PS4 sold 80,000 units in nine days.
  • The PS5 has been selling 80,000 units in 82 minutes, on average.
  • That’s 6 sales a minute for PS4, nearly 1,000 sales a minute for PS5.

They also have a graph about “purchase interest” in the console one year after launch where the PS4 has 28% interest and the PS5 has 55% interest. Again, all of these stem from the fact that so many of the people who want the PS5 just have been physically unable to get one, and this is the only reason that the PS4 is outselling the PS5 at this point in both lifecycles.

The “sales per minute” concept does not translate to something like PS5 sales would be 10,000% more than PS4 if they could only produce enough units, but it’s still pretty fascinating all the same. The slide is titled “unprecedented demand,” which certainly does not seem like an exaggeration, and it’s easy to imagine that PS5 probably would have broken all console sales speed records if Sony was able to produce more units. Instead, they are promising shortages that will continue into 2023 due to the ongoing supply chain/component issues. Things may not normalize until 2024, the company says.

The PS5 shortages seem to go hand in hand with another development, that Sony has started to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by limiting their game sales to the PlayStation and PlayStation only, especially now in an era where they cannot make enough of the boxes. This seems in part behind their push to get more games to PC, and they’ve reported a huge surge in PC sales due to recent ports like God of War, and it seems like other exclusives such as Returnal are about to make their way to PC in a much faster fashion than past games.

Microsoft has been doing cross-PC sales with the Xbox for a while now, and this is different than Sony which is doing later ports, sold separately, but they can get away with that due to high demand for their exclusives outside of the PlayStation ecosystem. Expect PC to become an increasingly important part of their business as they expand this concept, as Sony says they want half their game sales to be PC and mobile by 2025.

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Instagram is down, users report trouble logging in – MobileSyrup

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If you’ve been facing issues loading Instagram Stories, posts, or DMs, fret not, you’re not alone.

Outage tracking service Downdetector displays that users of the Meta-owned application have been facing issues logging in, along with connectivity issues since 12pm ET/9am PT.

Image credit: Downdetector

It’s worth noting that other Meta-owned services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, don’t seem to be affected.

Instagram hasn’t released an official statement about the update yet. Back in October, the Meta-owned photo-sharing app said that it is testing a feature that will let alert users of outages or technical difficulties directly in the app. It seems as though the feature is still in testing because the app has no mention of an outage currently.

It’s unclear what the cause of Instagram’s technical difficulty is. The last time the photo-sharing app had an outage was on October 4th, 2021, when it went down alongside Facebook and WhatsApp.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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China's Restrictions Delay iPhone 14 Development | by slashdotted | May, 2022 – DataDrivenInvestor

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According to a source, iPhone 14 development is behind schedule owing to Chinese lockdowns

At least one iPhone 14 model is three weeks late

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

According to a fresh rumor today, the development of at least one iPhone 14 model is three weeks behind schedule owing to Chinese lockdowns, which might damage initial production levels in the worst-case scenario.

According to reports, Apple has instructed suppliers to accelerate product development efforts in order to make up for a lost time before the delay impacts the regular manufacturing schedule, which might impair the initial production numbers of the iPhone 14 series.

By the end of June, all new iPhone models should have completed the EVT and moved on to the verification step.

As speculation grows regarding the characteristics of the next iPhone 14 models, such as an always-on display, a fresh source claims that the development of the line has been slowed by China’s coronavirus regulations.

All iPhone 14 versions are presently undergoing engineering verification testing (EVT), which involves Apple working with suppliers to optimize production processes and calculate manufacturing costs.

The unexpected lockdown shutdown of major Apple suppliers in Shanghai, as well as the effect on regional transportation, have caused the delay.

Apple is apparently working with its suppliers to expedite the process and get back on track.

The story seems to imply that, unlike the iPhone 12, the iPhone 14 will not be delayed and would instead come in the same September launch window as its current best iPhone, the iPhone 13.

Is the iPhone 14 going to be delayed?

According to this claim, it is doubtful that the iPhone 14 would be delayed.

The story does, however, raise the likelihood that one of the iPhone 14 versions may be substantially more difficult to get when it is introduced later this year.

The delay is claimed to be due to the internal development of the iPhone 14 series production process

. According to Nikkei, suppliers must adopt new manufacturing processes and adjust current production lines as part of a process known as New Product Introduction (NPI).

Last month, supposed real-world iPhone 14 display panels leaked online, revealing the suspected pill-shape and circular display cuts that would replace the conventional notch on this year’s new iPhone models to house the front-facing camera and Face ID technology.

In March, claimed iPhone 14 Pro 3D CAD renderings leaked, revealing the device’s reported redesigned pill-shape and circular display cutouts, which are likely to contain the iPhone’s Face ID components and front-facing camera module, eliminating the rectangular notch from the device’s display.

China’s restrictions stymie iPhone 14 development — Mobile World Live

According to the news agency, Apple’s iPhone 14 is being created by contract manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron, with full production expected to begin in late August.

Nikkei Asia reported that engineering verification tests must be finished by the end of June in order to fulfill the manufacturing timetable and that one of the four iPhone 14 variants is three weeks behind schedule.

Due to the limitations, Pegatron paused manufacturing in its Shanghai and Kunshan plants earlier this year, while Foxconn halted operations at its Shenzhen factory.

Apple officials warned last month that supply concerns in China might affect sales by much to $8 billion in the current fiscal quarter.

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