Lending a Hand to Robots

April 6, 2011
More advanced gripping functionality for emerging applications in industrial and service robotics
The Gripper has articulated fingers that conform to the shape of a part.

Manufacturers have become highly attuned to the fact that they must reduce costs even as they increase the flexibility of their processes, in order to respond more quickly to customers’ demands or changes in the market. With that in mind, Robotiq — a Quebec robot-components manufacturer — introduced its Adaptive Gripper. It claims that the Gripper is the world’s first “industrial dexterous gripper that gives industrial robots ‘hand-like’ capabilities to enhance their ability to manipulate a wider variety of parts, detect a grip, and control pressure on a given part.”

The technology was in development and testing for the past two years, and was launched in March 2011. It is compatible with robots from numerous manufacturers.

Erik Nieves, director of technology for Motoman Robotics, explained that “applications with a very high number of different parts are challenging to automate if using today’s current one-part/one-tool approach. Tooling gets complicated, and changing grippers increases cycle time and lowers ROI. As such, many of these applications are still performed with human operators.”

Motoman is a Robotiq partner that distributes the Adaptive Gripper.

“Everyone has seen humanoid robots with human-like hands in the media,” said Samuel Bouchard, CEO of Robotiq. “There are many of these hands out there, but the majority of them have been confined to the research market. Even if their flexibility is interesting, they are often too complex and fragile which makes them impossible to use in an industrial environment.”

The Robotiq Adaptive Gripper is the first dexterous gripper that is rugged and simple enough to bring required grasping flexibility to today’s manufacturing settings. The Gripper is focused on applications that have a very high parts handling variety and complexity of parts geometry. Typical applications include machine tending, parts positioning, assembly, and parts transfer.

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