What could be more natural than equipping robots in common work areas with a gripper designed according to this natural model, and that solves various tasks by learning through artificial intelligence?
Whether we grab, hold, twist, touch, type or press – in everyday life we use our hands as a matter of course for different tasks. In this respect, the human hand with its unique combination of power, dexterity and fine motor skills is a natural miracle tool. What could be more natural than equipping robots in common work areas with a gripper designed according to this natural model, and that solves various tasks by learning through artificial intelligence? Combined with the pneumatic lightweight robot BionicSoftArm, the concept of the future is suitable for human / robot collaboration.
BionicSoftHand is pneumatically operated so that it can collaborate safely and directly with people. Unlike the human hand, BionicSoftHand has no skeleton. The fingers consist of flexible bellows structures with air chambers. The bellows are enclosed in the fingers by a special 3D textile cover, woven from both elastic and strong threads. With the help of this textile it is possible to determine exactly where the structure should expand and generate power, and where it is prevented from expanding. This makes it light, flexible, adjustable and sensitive, but can still work with great forces.
Machines’ learning methods can be compared to humans, either in a positive or a negative way – they need feedback on their actions to assess and learn from them. BionicSoftHand uses the method of reinforcement learning.
This means that instead of imitating a specific action, the hand is given a target. It uses the test and error method to achieve its goals. Based on feedback received, it gradually optimizes its actions until the task is finally successfully completed
Specifically, BionicSoftHand should rotate a 12-sided cube so that a previously defined page is finally facing up. The necessary movement strategy is taught in a virtual environment with the help of a digital twin, which is created using data from a deeply sensitive camera and algorithms for artificial intelligence.
Proportional piezo valves for precise control
In order to minimize the tubing in BionicSoftHand, the developers have specially designed a small, digitally controlled valve terminal that is mounted directly on the hand. This means that the hoses for controlling the gripping fingers do not need to be pulled through the entire robot arm. Thus, BionicSoftHand can be quickly and easily connected and operated with only one hose for each supply and exhaust air. By using proportional piezo valves, the movements of the fingers can be precisely controlled.
Flexible application possibilities
The modular robot can be used for a variety of applications depending on the design and the mounted gripper. Thanks to its flexible kinematics, BionicSoftArm can collaborate directly and safely with people. At the same time, the kinematics makes it easier for it to adapt to different tasks at different locations in production environments. It eliminates costly safety devices such as cages and light barriers, shortens the conversion time and thus enables flexible use – entirely according to adaptive and economical production.