A new raven-inspired tweezer that offers better performance than traditional tweezers

A new raven-inspired tweezer that offers better performance than traditional tweezers

A new raven-inspired tweezer that offers better performance than traditional tweezers

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Among the many ingenious tools invented by man are the tweezers. It is widely used, both personally and professionally. Although its inorganic and sharp appearance does not seem suitable for medical use, no one has ever tried to optimize the shape of this instrument. A team from the University of Tsukuba (Japan) decided to draw inspiration from nature to design a more efficient tweezer.

To develop this claw, the researchers drew inspiration from the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) – an animal renowned for its ability to make and use tools. Its beak is 4.3 cm long from the anterior nasal hinge to the tip of the upper jaw; this is longer than the lower jaw. Thanks to its beak, this bird can make small wooden hooks with curved ends, which it uses to remove the larvae from the interstices where they nest.

This crow’s beak was chosen for its extreme maneuverability when used as a tool and for its moderately rounded organic shape, the researchers note in their prepress document. The tweezers are therefore more accessible and easier to use than conventional tweezers. The team developed a prototype (nicknamed Kuchibashi) from a 3D model of the New Caledonian crow’s beak, which they adapted to the human hand. The object was 3D printed and then subjected to various input activities to evaluate its usability.

A high performance gripper for gripping larger objects

The Kuchibashi has a length of about 2 cm (for the “spout” part), while the “handle” part measures 4.5 cm. The tool has been designed so that the user’s fingers can grasp approximately half the length of the spout. The team asked some participants to compare the usability of the Kuchibashi with that of conventional pliers and human fingers. They had to perform an input task (transfer small glass marbles from one container to another as quickly as possible), then answer a questionnaire (designed to assess the instrument’s overall ease of use, on a five-point scale).

(a) Brown a cherry tomato, (b) Brown a piece of tofu in miso soup, (c) Scale Kuchibashi prototype, (d) New Caledonian crow and Kuchibashi design phases. © T. Murakami et al.

More precisely, the grabbing experiment consisted of two successive tasks: transferring 10 glass beads between Petri dishes 15 cm apart (AllT), then transferring a single red marble placed in the center of the others (OneT ). Participants performed these activities with random combinations of tools and bead sizes (3, 5, and 8mm). A further experiment, which included only the OneT activity, was performed with 14mm beads.

Results of the experiment. © T. Murakami et al.

The experiment results show that the Kuchibashi performed particularly well in the AllT and OneT tasks with the 8mm diameter beads, as well as in the additional OneT experiment. The execution times were in fact considerably lower than other tools. For the smaller objects, the lead times were similar.

A satisfactory design, but not suitable for very small objects

On the user experience side, the tool was rated as good overall (with an average rating of 4.19 out of 5). Participants particularly appreciated the ease of holding the instrument and the fact that it could hardly get out of hand, as well as its “trendy” design. They also expressed a sense of confidence and security in the kidnapping itself; a slight “void” in the claw (similar to a raven’s beak) prevents the seized object from slipping.

Only a few participants felt it was “too thick for small items,” the team reports. Finally, 80% of the participants answered “yes” to the question of whether they would like to use Kuchibashi in the future.

Kuchibashi proved effective and was viewed positively by the participants, but it has some limitations. First, as mentioned in the result of the picking activity, this tool is not significantly faster than other methods (fingers or conventional tweezers) when the beads are small. ” Also, with the Kuchibashi’s current shape and size, extremely small objects are difficult to handle. “, Underline the researchers.

This study itself has some limitations, in particular the fact that the experiment was not conducted by grasping objects of different shapes and materials, but only with glass beads. The team plans to investigate how the Kuchibashi could be used as cutlery, a suggestion made by some experiment participants who were particularly happy with the tool.

Note that this isn’t the first time a bird’s beak has inspired engineers: the nose of the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed train was inspired by the kingfisher’s beak, a long, thin-billed bird capable of traversing means of transport. different density without losing energy. Thanks to this biomimicry, the Shinkansen can exit a tunnel with as little noise as possible and passengers are less disturbed by the sudden change in pressure.

Source: T. Murakami et al., ArXiv

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