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Festo TentacleGripper: gripping based on the role model of the octopus tentacle

TentacleGripper

Gripping based on the role model of the octopus tentacle

The octopus is a fascinating creature. Since it has no skeleton and consists almost exclusively of soft muscles, it is considered to be extremely flexible and mobile. As a result, not only can it maneuver and swim in all directions, it can also grip a wide variety of objects in a form-fitting manner. This phenomenon is now adopted by the TentacleGripper.

Unique combination of friction closure and vacuum

The bionic gripper consists of a soft silicone structure that can be controlled pneumatically. When it is supplied with compressed air, the tentacle bends inwards and can wrap itself around the item to be gripped in a form-fitting and gentle manner.

As with its natural role model, two rows of suction cups are attached to the inside of the silicone tentacles. While the small suction cups at the gripper tip have a passive effect, a vacuum can be applied to the larger suction cups, causing the object to adhere securely to the gripper. This allows the TentacleGripper to take up and hold a variety of different shapes.

Potential applications in safe human-robot collaboration

Due to its soft material, the artificial tentacle does not only grip gently and safely. It also meets the strict criteria of a soft robotics component and thus has great potential for the collaborative workspaces of tomorrow.

For this purpose, we are testing the gripper on not one but two pneumatic lightweight robots that were also developed in the Bionic Learning Network: the BionicMotionRobot and the BionicCobot. Both robots are flexible from the ground up and can be infinitely variably stiffened in their kinematics. This means they can interact directly with humans. Even in the event of a collision, they are harmless and do not have to be shielded from the operator like conventional factory robots.