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Festo BionicCobot: a sensitive helper for human-robot collaboration


A sensitive helper for human-robot collaboration

The BionicCobot mimics the human arm in more than its anatomical structure. Like its biological role model, the lightweight robot moves flexibly and precisely to perform its many tasks. This flexibility enables it to work directly and safely with humans.

Pneumatic lightweight robot with human motion dynamics

Whether grasping strongly or lifting carefully, pressing firmly or tapping gently – so that we humans can perform a movement, the interaction of opposing muscles is always necessary. This principle of agonist (player) and antagonist (opponent) has been technically implemented by our developers in all seven joints of the BionicCobot.

In its shoulder area there are three axes, in the elbow and forearm there is one each and there are two axes in the wrist. Each axis has a vane with two air chambers. These form a pair of actuators that can be continuously adjusted by filling with compressed air like a mechanical spring.

Festo BionicCobot

Sophisticated interaction: the new drive concept of the seven-axis robot arm

Safe handling and intuitive operability

Thanks to the unique drive concept, the force potential and thus also the degree of stiffness of the robot arm can be determined precisely. In the event of a collision, the pneumatic arm gives way automatically and poses no danger to humans. This inherent flexibility in the system and low dead weight allow use without a protective cage and thus enable an immediate and safe collaboration between humans and machines.

The BionicCobot is operated intuitively via a specially developed graphical user interface. Using a tablet, the user can easily teach the actions to be performed and sequence them in any order. The programmed motion sequences are transferred via the open source platform ROS (Robot Operating System) to the integrated Festo Motion Terminal which controls the kinematics.

Taking the strain in the collaborative workspaces of the future

Whether shorter lead times, faster product life cycles or high flexibility with regard to quantities and variants – the demands on future production are manifold and changing faster than ever before. This 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 help people in their daily interactions are coming into focus.

Due to its safe interaction, natural motion sequences and intuitive operability, the BionicCobot has great potential in a wide variety of industries: Especially in monotonous, humdrum or even dangerous activities, it could be used as a helping robot and relieve the strain on human beings.