It looks like a sort of robotic arm, and in fact one of the main applications could be in this field, the one created by the researcher Marcel Schuck from ETH Zurich who proposed a system to grab objects without touching them. The new “arm” ends with two small half-spheres, similar to the pavilions of a pair of headphones, which allow an object to hover between them thanks to ultrasonic waves, a phenomenon also known as acoustic levitation, as the scientist himself explains.

Such a system would allow you to manipulate small objects without touching them, which is extremely useful in those cases where touching an object also means risking damaging it, as happens with traditional robotic pliers, or contaminating it in some way.

The project, called “No-Touch Robotics,” is therefore based on an effect that has been known for over eighty years but that has rarely been exploited in practical applications.

The field generated by ultrasonic waves cannot be seen or heard by humans but still generates a relatively strong pressure field thanks to the overlapping august waves. The objects, however small in size, seem to float in the air in a sort of “acoustic trap.”

Together with the arm, scientists have also created a relative software that can adjust the pliers according to the shape of the object and can assist the movement of the arm supporting the pliers themselves.

Such a robotic arm could be useful in the fields of watchmaking, micromechanics and in all those cases where you have to work with small or fragile components.