Festo’s Bionic Mobile Assistant – a Robotic Helping Hand Like None Other

November 18, 2020

Advancing gripping technology is essential for promoting new uses for automated systems. Festo’s Bionic Mobile Assistant robotic helper, one of the latest reveals from the company’s Bionic Learning Network, represents a significant advance in mimicking that most amazing gripping tool of nature – the human hand.

The Bionic Mobile Assistant embodies three major subsystems: Bionic SoftHand 2.0, an upgraded version of the pneumatic gripper first presented by Festo in 2019 that mimics hand movements and actions; the DynaArm electric robot arm on which Bionic SoftHand 2.0 is mounted; and a ballbot for 360º mobility.

That makes Bionic Mobile Assistant more than a mere collaborative robot. Among many, potential uses of this concept robot, it would be perfect as a personal assistant or service robot, or for carrying out ergonomically strenuous or monotonous assembly tasks. It also could carry out simple tasks in challenging environments, like serving meals in hospitals where there is an increased risk of infection or in areas staff cannot access due to infections.

With its unique combination of force, dexterity and fine motor skills – the human hand is a true wonder of nature and a supreme challenge to adapt to mechanize. To enable the Bionic SoftHand 2.0 to carry out those movements somewhat realistically, compact valve technology, sensors, electronics and mechanical components are integrated in the tightest of spaces. The fingers and opposable thumb are made of flexible bellows structures with air chambers, surrounded by a firm yet yielding knitted fabric. This makes the hand light, adaptive and sensitive, yet capable of exerting strong force. The pneumatic fingers are actuated by a compact valve terminal, with piezo valves, mounted on the hand.

Making the thumb and index finger longer than in Bionic SoftHand 1.0 increased the lateral swivel range of both fingers. They now work well together and grip with great precision. Thanks to a 3D-printed wrist with two degrees of freedom, the hand also can move both back and forth, and left and right for a very tight gripping radius.

To increase the stability of the fingers, each air chamber contains two structural elements that act like bones. A bending sensor determines the positions of the fingertips. The hand also wears a glove with tactile force sensors, which allows it to sense the nature of the item to be gripped, and adapt its gripping force accordingly.

The hand also has a depth camera inside the wrist so it can visually detect objects and grip them, even if they are partially covered.

The Bionic SoftHand 2.0 is mounted on the electric DynaArm. The DynaArm can carry out fast and dynamic movements thanks to its lightweight design with highly integrated drive modules that weigh just one kilo. The ballbot is actually a sophisticated drive. The robot balances on it, so the Bionic Mobile Assistant can move freely in all directions. All energy supplies are on board: a battery for powering the arm and robot, and a compressed air cartridge for the pneumatic hand. The robot can work autonomously, orienting itself independently in three dimensions using two cameras.

Thanks to its modular concept, the Bionic SoftHand 2.0 also can be quickly mounted and commissioned on other robot arms. On Festo’s Bionic Cobot or the Bionic SoftArm, the gripper forms a completely pneumatic robotic system.

For more information, visit www.festo.com.

Related Articles

  • New G2RV-ST And G3RV-ST Relays from Omron

    New G2RV-ST And G3RV-ST Relays from Omron

    Omron’s New G2RV-ST And G3RV-ST Relays Are Among the Fastest in the Industry That Provide Better Visibility, Top-Notch Reliability, and Vibration Resistance January 23, 2023 Speedier relays are a key requirement in today’s fast-paced manufacturing industry, and Omron responded to this need with the new ST relays that are among the fastest available on the… Read More…

Editor’s Pick: Featured Article

Conserving Power and CO2 Emissions with Premium Efficiency Motors

The process of converting electrical energy to mechanical energy is never perfect. As much as we would like to have a 100% efficient motor, it is impossible to build a machine that will take 746 watts of electricity (the equivalent of 1 Hp) and convert it to 1 Hp of mechanical output. It always takes somewhat more than 746 watts to yield 1 Hp’s worth of output.

Motors are continuously being pushed to be more efficient and reduce these losses. Over the years the guiding regulations of motor manufacturing have pushed us to improve efficiencies to new levels to reduce the considerable global power consumption of motors, as they are everywhere. From our factories, utilities and homes and most anywhere you can think of.

How much power consumption aka money are you spending that you do not have to? Take a minute while having your coffee to see if you can save money.

Read More

Latest Articles

  • Energy Technology Perspectives 2023

    Energy Technology Perspectives 2023

    Energy Technology Perspectives 2023 highlights major market and employment opportunities, as well as the emerging risks, for countries racing to lead the clean energy industries of today and tomorrow. The energy world is at the dawn of a new industrial age – the age of clean energy technology manufacturing – that is creating major new markets and millions of jobs but also raising new risks, prompting countries across the globe to devise industrial strategies to secure their place in the new global energy economy, according to a major new IEA report. Read More…

  • Conserving Power and CO2 Emissions with Premium Efficiency Motors

    Conserving Power and CO2 Emissions with Premium Efficiency Motors

    Saving the environment and thousands of dollars a year January 17, 2023 New motor efficiency vs your installed motors Premium efficiency motors. How much power consumption aka money are you spending that you do not have to? Take a minute while having your coffee to see if you can save money. The process of converting… Read More…