At first glance, robots have great potential in collecting, packaging and order picking of food in supermarkets is routine work that does not require decision-making. But, unfortunately, most manipulators are not capable of working with products such as fruits and vegetables. It's all in the limbs, which even with the most delicate and difficult to debug too hard to work with these objects without causing them damage. In the context of the SoMa project, which involved research institutes and universities, specialists are looking suitable for delicate work in European warehouses reliable robot. As suitable for "soft" activities solution, the scientists chose the robotic arm RBO 2 Softhand, developed at the Technical University of Berlin — his arms are sufficiently flexible and soft to work with fragile objects.
The "fingers" of the robot is made of flexible rubber material. The grip of the limb is adjusted with compressed air, which is stored in seven individual controlled air chambers anthropomorphic hand, designed to capture a wide range of subjects.
This approach differs from known robots Universal Robots packers and EPFL method, which uses electroadhesion to grip fragile items. So as not to crush the object RBO Softhand 2 independently regulates the air pressure sent to the fingers. The palm, fingers and thumb of the manipulator adjusts its shape to fit the object, and the sensors monitor grip strength.
During testing, the RBO hand Softhand 2 was attached to two different robots and on both it has shown good results. After a successful initial tests, the team will test the manipulator in some more complex scenarios with the addition of more products and directly to the storage conditions.
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