Soft Robot

Martin Raak | 8. July 2014

2 weeks ago I have had the opportunity to join the first international Symposium on SOFT ROBOTICS in Germany at the IPA Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart. Many researchers and users discussed about soft and “compliant” robots. What does it mean? In my understanding, “soft” robots act more like humans (or animals). Softness can be achieved by highly intelligent components (like sensors or programmed algorithms) or it can be “inherent”, means the structure of the robot is soft and compliant by itsself (without added intelligence).

I have learned, that humans are much less precise than an average robot, when they perform an action (for example grip a pen from a desk). We use the desk as “guidance” for our fingers in order to grip the pen. I understood, that our robolink wire driven joint arms acts exactly in that way: The precision is certainly much worse than the precision of an industrial robot.  But our robolink arm can be guided by the task and by that, the programming is much easier than the programming of an industrial robot, because the arm is soft and “elastic”.

This video from one of our 6 DOF units moving a linear slider may illustrate this softness:

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