Empire Robotics is setting up the demo to show off the capabilities of Versaball, its robotic gripper. Instead of fingers, it has a ball filled with sand-like material.
When the robot isn’t holding anything, air is pumped into the ball, loosening the grains inside. To grip an object, the air is sucked out of the ball. This causes the grains to compact around the object. This process is so precise that Versaball can grip delicate objects without crushing them.
Air is pumped back inside the ball to let go of the held object. If air is pumped back in with enough force, Versaball will end up throwing the held object. Thus, beer pong:
Bring your “A” game, CES attendees.
[via Emergent Futures]