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Bionic Handling Assistant

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Festo's Bionic Handling Assistant / Festo AG & C.. / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

Human-technology cooperation with a compliant robotic assistant.

Inspiring Strategies


Product or process
The arm contains no steel or iron. It is produced using 3D laser sintering, a form of additive manufacturing. The structural material, polyamide, is compliant, yet strong enough to perform manual lifting, and can also perform delicate procedures. The key to such smooth motion is a hydrostatic compartmentalized structure that is flexible, with pneumatic stiffening. In total, this affords for 11 degrees of freedom for movement. The gripping portion of the arm has adaptive fingers that conform to handle variable cargos, from eggs and bandages to wrenches and wires. A robotic controller unit directs patterned motion or responsive action.
 
 
This arm provides supplemental handling for human directed projects, or can operate on its own in a programmed sequence. Its flexibility and compliance enable uses that are off-limits to traditional metal hydraulic mechanical assistants. A wide range of applications include factory, production, laboratory, and hospital settings. The ultimate goal is to facilitate smooth and intuitive human-technology interaction.
Challenges solved
Supplemental handling for human projects, programmed robotic activity, flexible and compliant handling with fluid motion.
Differences from existing products
Compliance is not a feature of traditional robotic assistants. This presents danger of injury and/or performance error. For this reason, conventional robots and human workers are typically segregated by safeguards or physical barriers. This product can operate independently or in direct cooperation with humans. Dynamic, fluid movement facilitates human-technology cooperation in diverse settings. The equipment doesn't require extremely advanced components; it consists of elements with wide usage in other applications.
The biomimicry story
The elephant's trunk inspired this versatile robotic arm. The roughly 40,000 muscle bundles in an elephant's trunk provide an appendage that is flexible, capable of transmitting large forces, precise, delicate, and highly compliant. By creating a system that combined flexible materials, moderate control, and efficient movement, Festo has indeed made good use of the inspiration. Also, this is one of several projects by the Bionic Learning Network--a cooperation between Festo and renowned universities, institutes, and development companies. The interdisciplinary teams have an inherent biomimetic focus.

For example of the elephant trunk application, View Video
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About the Product

Company: Festo

Product Phase: Under development

Product Type: Robotic assistant