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Robot gripper based on the human hand

Robot gripper based on the human hand

During this year's PPMA Show one of the highlights from Festo was a new type of flexible gripper concept called the MultiChoiceGripper. Product manager Steve Sands explains: "To cope with the complexity of parts to be handled, shape, mass, surface, fragility, etc, there are countless corresponding gripper designs. The Festo MultiChoiceGripper offers a unique combination of different grip types with flexible, adaptive gripping fingers. Its fingers can be internally switched from parallel (so called two-finger) or centric (three-finger) configuration."  

A development within the Festo Bionic Learning Network, the benefits of developing a solution that begins to emulate the versatility of the human hand are clear. The MultiChoiceGripper combines two development fields, adaptive finger technology using Fin Ray structures and a clever mechanical linkage that changes the position of the fingers from 'opposing' to 'surrounding'.

The changeover is enabled by two rotatable slots in the base of the gripper, which are arranged either around a central point or opposite the third finger. This is inspired by the human hand with its opposable thumb, which can be rotated by 130 degrees in relation to the other fingers. Depending on requirements, between two and six finger elements can be fitted to the MultiChoiceGripper. Besides the Fin Ray fingers, two other types of fingers can be attached.

Due to the adaptive fingers with a Fin Ray structure, the MultiChoiceGripper is not only variable in terms of the direction of grip as the fingers themselves can adapt to a wide variety of shapes. It can therefore grip differently shaped and also very sensitive objects without additional sensor or control technology. The adaptive Fin Ray-Fingers were designed in 2009 for the bionic FinGripper and have been continually developed ever since. For instance, since 2014 they have been made of food-compliant polyurethane, which means they can be applied within washdown environments in the food industry.

Sands concludes: "Future applications for the MultiChoiceGripper are widespread in assembly and robotic tasks. Until now, gripping multiple parts has required either time wasting tool changing, weight increasing multiple heads or even multiple handling arms.

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