Robotic Arm Inspired by Elephant’s Trunk

You can’t beat Mother Nature’s design. And Germany-based Festo—a bionics pioneer—has built an entire business around this premise. Most recently, they introduced the Bionic Handling Assistant, the design of which mimics the movement of an elephant’s trunk.

This is no small feat. An elephant’s trunk has 40,000 muscles and can move in a multi-directional way. The Bionic Handling Assistant offers eleven degrees of freedom which allows for a variety of task-specific directions—a breakthrough in that conventional handling systems are typically restricted to linear axes.

The gripper at the end of the arm—which is based on a fish fin—can hold and move very delicate objects.

Because of the sophisticated control system and lightweight material—polyamide and not metal—Festo hopes that the new handling system can interact with humans in a safer way and be used in the home as well as industry. For example: medical procedures, rehabilitation, and as an aid for the handicapped.

Learn more about how the most innovative products are designed today.

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