Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, have created a ‘one size fits all’ robotic arm for production lines, potentially saving manufacturers millions.
Automated production lines rely on robots for holding the manufactured parts firmly. The variety of geometries for the various manufactured parts leads to the necessity to use different robotic graspers or end-effectors, each adapted to the specific part geometry. Designing, manufacturing and installing the various graspers on each of the robots on the production line is costly and time consuming.
Now BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), introduces a novel technology allowing one end-effector to fit various targets. The invention, developed by Professor Amir Shapiro and Dr Avishay Sintov from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at BGU, allows for the design of non-dexterous graspers for a production robot that will enable the grasping of parts with different geometries, thus reducing the cost of production of the parts, while increasing versatility in the production lines.
The invention relies on a proprietary search algorithm that defines available grasping areas in a set of parts that are used in a given production line, taking into account multiple parameters, such as the force required to hold the part firmly. The algorithm then defines a common set of grasping points for all objects in a given group, enabling the design of one robotic arm that will be able to handle all the parts.
“This seemly simple solution is based of sophisticated algorithm developed by Prof. Shapiro and Dr. Sintov that can increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of production lines, by reducing the need for multiple robotic arms, streamlining and increasing the speed of production, and even repurposing existing production lines for other needs,” said Danny Staier, Business Development, Exact Science and Engineering at BGN Technologies. “After filing patents to protect this invention, we are now seeking a strategic partner for the further development and commercialisation of the technology.”