New robotic 'elephant trunk' could safely hang with humans

London, Nov 24 (ANI): German scientists have made a new robotic 'elephant trunk', which is graceful, flexible and safe.

Alongside the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart, Festo of Denkendorf turned to 3D printing technology to make soft, compliant lightweight trunk segments that can nevertheless be steered by strong, pneumatically-powered artificial muscles hidden deep within.

Festo said its elephant's trunk-inspired limb, dubbed the Bionic Handling Assistant, is peppered with resistance sensors that limit its extension when it senses contact - potentially making it safe for anyone to use and interact with, reports New Scientist.

At the end of the 'trunk', Festo has placed a novel gripper with three fin-shaped fingers comprised of collapsible compartments. As the outermost ends of these digits wrap around an object, they collapse and trap the object - so very little force is needed to grasp it, and the risk of injury is reduced.

"We are currently developing three sizes for gripping different types of objects - from hazelnuts to grapefruit. Test customers are already using the FinGripper in their production lines," said Festo on its website. (ANI)

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