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A robot made with a Venus flytrap can grab fragile objects.

A new robotic grabber is ripped from the plant world. It’s made with a severed piece of a Venus flytrap. The novel device can grasp tiny, delicate objects.

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant. It preys on small animals, such as insects. Normally, the plant scores a meal when prey touches delicate hairs on one of the plant’s jawlike leaves. That triggers the trap to snap shut. But the researchers designed a method to force hair-trigger leaves to close.

They stuck electrodes to the leaves and applied a small electric voltage. The leaves still worked even when they’d been cut from the plant. They could still shut upon command for up to a day. Materials scientist Wenlong Li and colleagues work at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. They described their new grabber January 25 in Nature Electronics.

Scientists controlled a Venus flytrap with electrodes on its leaves. This video shows how researchers used a smartphone to direct it to grasp small objects like a wire and a moving weight.

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