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Inspired by Nature: 3 Examples of Bionic Gripper Technologies

Translated by Jessica Dolan

Gartner Hype Cycle for Drones and Mobile Robots 2019

Robotics is one of the trending topics in production and will be on the agenda of many companies in the coming years. It is also featured as one of the trending topics in the 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle and, along with Smart Robotics, is currently associated with great expectations.

In order for smart robotics systems to be able to interact with objects, so-called end effectors are essential. These have developed considerably in recent years. Whereas before they were inflexible "grippers", usually suitable for one task only, today they are adaptive, polymer-based and bionically-inspired all-rounders. It is fascinating how these end effectors succeed in carrying out a range of diverse tasks.

Thanks to our AI-based technology monitoring at ROKIN, I come across such innovative concepts time and time again. I would like to briefly introduce three fascinating end-effectors that can handle even the most difficult gripping tasks.

TechBite #1: Gripping like a chameleon

Polymers are the material of choice for most bionic grippers. Festo's FlexShapeGripper technology is based on the tongue of a chameleon. This makes it possible to grip a wide range of objects, but also to "collect" and transport several objects one after another. Here is a fascinating video of the gripper in action.

TechBite #2: Gripping like an octopus

Robotics startup SoftRobotics also relies on polymers. Mgrip is an end effector that is modelled on an octopus arm. The gripper makes it possible to grasp a wide range of varying products and to handle delicate, bulky or soft objects.

TechBite #3: Gripping without gripping

Although still on its way to market readiness and currently rather intended for small components, it is nevertheless a fascinating technology: acoustic levitation from No Touch Robotics. The technology enables contactless manipulation of objects. With such disruptive approaches, scenarios such as Raumschiff Enterprise, where everything happens without contact, no longer seem so far away.

Excited about these and other technologies and seeking inspiration for innovation in your own company? Our AI algorithms continuously search the rising flood of information for the latest technologies - especially for the needs of industry. In our TechSheets you will not only find technology examples on a specific topic in the context of Industry 4.0, but also manufacturer information, studies and much more.


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Thomas Kinkeldei


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