Vacuum suction cups conquered the factory halls and production facilities years ago. It is hard not to notice them, as they usually work with compressed air, are noisy, depend on heavy equipment and on top of that “quite inflexible”, according to the Saarland scientists. The scientists’ robotic arm , in contrast, runs on electric current only and is therefore noiseless. The method leverages the nickel-titanium alloy’s so-called shape memory: thin wires are used that shorten when current is applied and then return to their initial state - contracting like muscles. The suction grippers will be showcased at the Hannover Messe trade fair in Hall 2, Stand B 46 .
The Ruhr University in Bochum is also conducting research on robot arms, although with a different objective: the goal is to move them with one’s brain and thus control them as if they were part of one’s body. Although the project is focused on medical technology usage for people with paralysis, industry is also welcome on board, explains Christian Klaes: production robots with the necessary degree of freedom would then also be able to perform fine motor movements. The researchers are still waiting for the EU to certify the electrodes for controlling robotic assistance systems. After that they plan to look for paralysis patients who agree to the implants for the purposes of research