Robots and tomatoes would seem to make a very odd couple. If anything, the thought of this delicate fruit in a robot’s grasp is more likely to make you think of ketchup! But Soft Robotics Inc. from the USA, partner country of HANNOVER MESSE 2016, is demonstrating a much gentler approach. The spin-off from the George Whitesides Research Group at Harvard University is at the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology to introduce its groundbreaking soft actuator technology to potential users across a wide range of sectors.
Fragile fruit, delicate laboratory instruments or soft polo shirts are just a few examples of the countless objects of varying size, shape and properties that this new class of robotic end-of-arm tooling from Soft Robotics can grip and handle. The use of soft actuator technology is set to open up a host of new applications in a wide range of fields, such as in the shipping departments of online retailers, where – in stark contrast to their less flexible robotic counterparts, which are limited to pushing around pallets – these gentle grippers can process a customer’s entire order and pack the whole parcel. What’s more, the Soft Robotics engineers say their Adaptive Grasper System will be plug-and-play and thus compatible with standard industrial robots and commonly used vision systems, offering easy integration into existing systems.