(Phys.org)—Because traditional robot hands or grippers were first created to assist in production type enterprises, e.g. to help build cars, etc., they have not been very good at working with soft materials. For that reason, over the past couple of years, robot engineers have been working to come up with new ways to give robot hands the ability to manipulate small and/or fragile objects. Now a team from Harvard working with the Department of Energy and DARPA has come up with a tentacle type gripper that is sensitive enough to lift a flower without crushing it. They have had their paper describing their results published in the journal Advanced Materials.