Soft robotic arm developed by Festo can learn the manipulation of objects

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2019-03-01 20:00:11

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Soft robotic arm developed by Festo can learn the manipulation of objects

For the fraction of a second before the moment you take an object in your hand, your brain will calculate all possible combinations of movements necessary to safely and securely grasp and move the object. This subconscious function of the brain develops in a man with a child in the learning process. The result of the same training approach demonstrated by the German company Festo that manufacture industrial equipment and automation systems. The company introduced a new robotic arm BionicSoftHand, which not only has an amazing flexibility, but also uses artificial intelligence to calculate the right algorithm for the manipulation of objects until, in fact, takes them.

BionicSoftHand is another example of a soft approach to robotics. used in industries for moving heavy objects, made of steel and operate on the basis of a powerful pneumatic systems, making them strong and fast, but quite insensitive. Contact the machine with the person at the time of her work most often end with disastrous consequences for the latter. In turn, the so-called soft robots used in its construction mainly more flexible materials, for example, smart fabric or inflatable parts. Therefore, interaction with them considerably less traumatic.

For maximum safety, Festo does not use the new robotic arm solid skeletal structure. Instead, it is equipped with an inflatable bellows, which is created using the 3D printing technology of three-dimensional fabric made of elastic fibers, which bends with the movement of the hand when the bellows is supplied with air. In other words, if you simplify, it seems all the more work our muscles and tendons.

Soft fingers of a robotic hand equipped with sensors BionicSoftHand inertia (movement) and power, also created on the basis of flexible materials that can bend while in motion. The sensors provide feedback to the control systems of the hand, informing about ongoing movements of the hands and fingers, as well as the contact with the object. In addition, they convey information about whether the object is located in the hand for its manipulation. In other words, the range of sensors gives the perception of hand contact, imitating our sense of touch.

Usually industrial robotic manipulators are programmed so that they can perform an infinite number of certain specific movements. Of course, in their systems allowed a certain amount for optional task execution, but generally their work is reduced to the same set of manipulations with objects, for example, moving them from one place to another.
BionicSoftHand in this respect, more "like a man": before starting the manipulation of the object by the system of artificial intelligence of their own tries every possible combination of how to take an object as it is rotated and put back on. To do this it uses a complex virtual simulation by trial and error selects the proper options for further action. As a child, you probably 100 times dropped the Cup with a drink, has not yet learned to properly keep. So, BionicSoftHand does the same thing, only in a virtual environment, going through billions of incorrect options and end up finding the most correct and optimal. For a split second.

In the demo video the robot is given the task to move is placed in the hand of the 12-sided object so that a certain face was looking up. How to do it – the car is not explained. First, using a 3D camera with depth perception the machine creates a digital copy of the object in the hand, and then places it in a simulation with many virtual hands that manipulate the object until, until you have the right combination. Then comes the physical hand BionicSoftHand. With this method, the learning machine can learn much faster child. Thus, when you perform a new task, it can use already learned earlier, the algorithms for manipulation.

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