'Bionic' concept could transform handling technology
Festo will be displaying its innovative 'bionic' concept project at this year's Hannover Fair.
Used as a tool for research ideas and demonstrations of design concepts the Bionic Handling Assistant (BHA) is intended to stimulate dialogue with customers, suppliers and partners.
It provides a flexible and safe means of moving objects from one position to another and, according to Festo, could revolutionise the design of materials handling systems. The company hopes that it has the potential to open up a host of entirely new application areas involving direct, non-hazardous contact between humans and robots.
Festo's Bionic Learning Network is an alliance of educational establishments and specialist companies tasked with exploring bionic solutions for future automation applications. The inspiration for the BHA comes from elephants' trunks and it
employs biomechatronics technology. Festo says that direct contact between machines and human operators – whether accidental or intentional – is no longer hazardous. In the event of a collision with a human, the BHA is designed to yield immediately, without modifying its desired overall dynamic behaviour, and then resume its operation.
It consists of three basic elements for spatial movement, together with a hand axis with a ball joint, and a gripper with adaptive fingers. Each basic element comprises three circularly arranged pneumatic actuators tapering at an angle of 3°, while each actuator is supplied with compressed air at the interfaces of the basic elements.
Opposing movements are effected by the loop-like design of the actuators, which act like a spring when the compressed air is exhausted. Their extension is measured by position sensors, which control the system's spatial movement. In the hand axis, three further actuators are arranged around a ball joint; their activation displaces the gripper by an angle of up to 30°.
Festo's safety position sensors register the travel and are designed to ensure precise alignment. The company's VPWP proportional valves are used for pneumatic control.
The BHA is manufactured using the latest additive rapid manufacturing technologies, which facilitate the production of individual moveable system components from polyamide. This is applied in thin layers onto a base platform, with each new layer being fused into place by means of a laser beam, hardening the layers only where it is programmed. This is a form of 3d printing which now makes it possible to cost effectively produce intricate, complex products in small batch sizes.
This material is protected by Findlay Media copyright
See Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not.
For multiple copies contact the