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FreeMotionHandling: autonomous flying gripper balls


Autonomous flying gripper balls

Our Bionic Learning Network has long been engaged in both flying and gripping. With the FreeMotionHandling we have for the first time combined these two topics. The indoor flying object can maneuver autonomously in all directions, pick up objects independently and deliver them to a suitable location.

Flying assistance system for handling in the air

FreeMotionHandling consists of an ultra-light carbon ring with eight adaptive propellers, in the middle of which is a rotating helium sphere with integrated gripper element. Unlike other indoor flying objects, contact is not dangerous even in the event of a collision. People and balls can thus interact safely with one another at any time without problems.

This opens up new perspectives for the workspace of the future: There, the freely movable sphere could serve as a flying assistance system for people – for example when working overhead, at dizzying heights or as a feeder in rooms that are difficult to access.

Festo FreeMotionHandling and FlexShapeGripper

The gripping mechanism of FreeMotionHandling and FlexShapeGripper

Combination of several bionic principles

Our engineers made particular use of two existing developments from the Bionic Learning Network: The gripping mechanism of the FreeMotionHandling is modeled on the universally applicable FlexShapeGripper, the working principle of which is derived from the tongue of a chameleon. Its elastic gripper can slip flexibly and positively over the respective gripping material and even pick up several objects in one operation.

The flying helium sphere itself is a further development of the eMotionSpheres. For the first time, we designed adaptive propellers for its propulsion concept which, thanks to their flexible diaphragm, can provide the same thrust in both directions of rotation. The design of the propellers is based on the experience gained with the BionicOpter. The developers took the wing principle of the artificial dragonfly a step further and transferred it to the drives which are now also used with the FreeMotionHandling.

Exact positioning and precise object recognition

No pilot is required to control the flying object. From the outside, the sphere is coordinated by an indoor GPS which is already used in the eMotionSpheres and the eMotionButterflies and has proven itself. In addition, the industrial robot has two on-board cameras with which it can perceive its surroundings during the gripping process and react to them according to the situation. When the sphere approaches the object to be gripped, it uses the two cameras to plan its own path.

Festo FreeMotionHandling and BionicOpter

The design of the propellers is based on the experience gained with the BionicOpter