Whether sensitive and gentle or powerful and dynamic – the movements of the BionicMotionRobot are inspired by the elephant's trunk and the tentacles of the octopus. The pneumatic lightweight robot has twelve degrees of freedom and its payload of three kilograms means it can carry approximately its own weight.
The arm of the BionicMotionRobot consists of three flexible basic segments, each of which is moved by four pneumatic bellows. The complex control and regulation of the twelve flexible bellows structures is performed by a Festo Motion Terminal VTEM. An optical shape sensor along the longitudinal axis of the system records the position, shape and interactions of the complete kinematics. Thanks to this modular design, the robot arm can simultaneously bend in three different directions and smoothly perform the natural movements of its biological role models.
The bellows are made of robust elastomer. Each one of them is covered with a special 3D textile knit which has an astonishing parallel to nature in its function: Similar to the muscle fibers in an octopus tentacle, its filaments are oriented in such a way that they allow the bellows structures to expand in the desired direction of movement and simultaneously limit them in the other directions. It is only thanks to this innovative fiber technology that the force potential of the entire kinematics can be exploited.
Modular design: a look inside the pneumatic robot arm
The concept of flexible kinematics is based on the Bionic Handling Assistant of 2010, which was awarded the German Future Prize for its safe cooperation between humans and machines. Since then, we have been working intensively on systems that could relieve people of monotonous activities and at the same time pose no risk. This aspect is becoming increasingly important in everyday factory life.
Industrial change demands a new kind of interaction between people, machines and data. In addition to the digital networking of entire systems, robot-based automation solutions which will be able to work hand in hand with people in the future are playing a decisive role in this development.
Due to its safe interaction and natural motion sequences, the BionicMotionRobot has great potential in a wide variety of industries: Especially in monotonous, humdrum or even dangerous activities, it could be used as a helping third hand in assembly and relieve the strain on human beings.