Bionic Handling Assistant
Safe human-machine interaction
At first glance, the Bionic Handling Assistant works like a flexible gripper arm, which is modelled on an elephant’s trunk in terms of structure and overall function. The system is also used by the Festo researchers as a development platform that combines a wide range of technologies and components.
The Bionic Handling Assistant works in an easy, freely moving and flexible way. It is even safe if there is direct contact between man and machine. In the event of a collision, the bellows structure gives way immediately and, as a result, does not have to be carefully protected from humans as conventional industrial robots have to be. This feature resulted in the Assistant system being awarded the 2010 German Future Prize.
Mechatronic development platform
At the same time, the system also serves as a multi-technology platform for the simultaneous development of mechanics, electronics and software for machines and handling solutions. In 2012 the developers added an image and speech detection function to the Assistant. This enables the system to grip objects on its own – without the need for programming work or manual operation. At the same time, the adaptive gripper fingers enable fragile and differently shaped items to be handled without being destroyed.
Festo thus provides new approaches to the question of how man can interact with machines in the factory of tomorrow in a simple, efficient and above all safe manner.