When you think of podgy hands you might be met with images of fumbling attempts to grip objects. In the case of Empire Robotics' Versaball its chunky ball hand is the opposite, easily able to pick up anything.

While primarily aimed at prosthetic and industrial use, this is a fascinating way to simplify a complex problem. Rather than creating a complex robotic hand that mimics a human's, Empire Robotics went down a different route.

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The Versaball uses a granular material in a bag which, when placed on an object, spreads to surround it. Then air is sucked out of the bag to create a vacuum and solidify the granules into a shape, which is now gripping the object. This technique allows it to pick up pretty much anything that's under 10kg.

The Versaball is scheduled to begin shipping later this month.