Coffee has all sorts of untapped potential, as we saw with the Nespresso-powered clocks and radio. DARPA takes a handful of sweet caffeine-assisted glory with this mechanical coffee grounds-filled balloon. I know, it sounds like the leftovers of a futuristic Starbucks office party, but the resulting product is actually a helpful gripper which sucks objects into its crushed coffee grounds grip.
DARPA uses a system called “jamming,” which means that to mold around an object, air is pushed into the balloon, allowing it to expand to provide room for the coffee grounds to mold around an object. Air is sucked out of the balloon to grab hold of the object. DARPA says the technology for the balloon bot “could be on the market tomorrow,” considering that all you need, in addition to a balloon and coffee grounds, is an air pump and a mechanical arm. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my extra mechanical arms anyway.