The hands are made by Soft Robotics, a Bedford company that’s using innovations from Harvard University’s chemistry labs to develop strong but delicate robotic hands.
Soft Robotics is facing off against a nearby rival with an Ivy League pedigree of its own: RightHand Robotics, of Somerville, founded by scientists from Harvard and Yale universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The problem, said a robotics industry analyst, Dan Kara of WTWH Media, is that robots still can’t be trusted to carefully pack multiple items into a single box.
Soft Robotics makes grippers out of plastics developed in the lab of Harvard chemist George Whitesides.
Unlike some other robotic grippers, Soft Robotics hands are suitable for handling food, including fruits, vegetables, candy, and cake.
RightHand Robotics is focused on serving online retailers.
Even if these robotic grabbers aren’t capable of the most complex jobs, they’re getting smart enough – and fast enough – for many other packaging tasks.