Festo lends a robotic helping hand
It's the Bionic Learning Network's latest release.
Festo Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont., has unveiled its Bionic Learning Network’s latest product. The Bionic Mobile Assistant robotic helper represents an advance in mimicking the human hand as a gripping tool.
The technology mounts Festo’s upgraded Bionic SoftHand 2.0 pneumatic gripper, which mimics hand movements and actions, to a DynaArm electric robot arm and then to a ‘ballbot’ for 360-degree mobility. One of its potential applications is carrying items in areas of hospitals where staff cannot enter due to increased risk of infection.
The SoftHand integrates compact valve technology, tactile force sensors, a depth camera, electronics and mechanical components. The fingers and opposable thumb are made of flexible bellows structures with air chambers, surrounded by knitted fabric. The pneumatic fingers are actuated by a terminal with piezoelectric valves, mounted on the hand. Compared to Bionic Softhand 1.0, the thumb and index finger are now longer, to increase their lateral swivel range.
All energy supplies are on board, including a battery for powering the arm and robot and a compressed air cartridge for the pneumatic hand. The robot can work autonomously, orienting itself independently in three dimensions using two cameras.