REDwire Festo advances capabilities of human-robot collaboration

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Festo unveiled new robotic concepts at the recent Hannover Fair.

Festo recently demonstrated three new projects from its famed Bionic Learning Network at the Hannover Fair in Germany. These new robotic concepts, which are based on pneumatics, promise to help advance the frontiers of human-robot collaboration in industry. Like the company’s other Bionic Learning Network innovations, this trio — two lightweight robots and a flexible gripper — mimics motions found in nature.

The BionicCobot

Inspired by the natural movement of the human arm, the BionicCobot is a lightweight pneumatic robot. This unit employs human movement dynamics, as it was modelled on the functioning of the human arm from the shoulder, down through the upper arm, elbow, radius and ulna to its gripping hand. Each of its seven joints makes use of the natural operating mechanism of the biceps and triceps. The robot’s movements can be finely regulated so that it can be powerful and dynamic, or sensitive and readily yielding.

 

The BionicMotionRobot

The BionicMotionRobot emulates the fluid movement of an elephant’s trunk or an octopus’s tentacles. It is lightweight, and features a flexible pneumatic bellows structure, with corresponding valve and control technology. The unit’s outer skin is made from a 3D textile knitted fabric, which enables it to fully deploy the great force potential of the entire kinematic system. The robot arm has a load-bearing capacity of almost three kilograms.

The OctopusGripper

This gripper simulates the suctioning ability of octopus tentacles, and features a soft silicone structure that can be pneumatically controlled. If compressed air is applied to it, the tentacle bends inwards and can wrap around the object being gripped in a form-fitting yet gentle manner. Two rows of actively and passively controlled suction cups are arranged on the inside of the silicone tentacle, enabling the gripper to pick up and hold a large number of differently shaped objects.

Great potential

All three projects show what hazard-free, direct human-robot collaboration could look like in the future, and have great potential to evolve into commercial products. The two lightweight robots can be a cost-effective alternative to classic robots, while the OctopusGripper is an ideal complementary technology for either robot.

To learn more, contact Festo.

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