Variable gripping based on the human hand

Paul Boughton

Festo’s MultiChoiceGripper concept is an adaptive, flexible handling system that employs the concept of opposable thumbs to ensure maximum stability when gripping.

Typical applications for the MultiChoiceGripper are wherever a variety of different objects are gripped; for example, in auxiliary robotics, for assembly tasks or in production facilities where various products are made.

“To cope with the complexity of parts to be handled, shape, mass, surface, fragility, etc, there are countless corresponding gripper designs,” explains Steve Sands, Product Manager at Festo. “The MultiChoiceGripper combines two development fields – adaptive finger technology using Festo’s Fin Ray structures and a clever mechanical linkage that changes the position of the fingers from ‘opposing’ to ‘surrounding’.”

Depending on requirements, between two and six finger elements can be fitted to the MultiChoiceGripper.

Due to the adaptive nature of the Fin Ray structure, the MultiChoiceGripper is not only variable in terms of the direction of grip, the fingers themselves can adapt to a wide variety of shapes. It can therefore grip differently shaped and also very sensitive objects without the need for additional sensor or control technology. 

In addition, the Fin Ray structures are made of food-compliant polyurethane, which means they can be applied within washdown environments in the food industry. Besides the Fin Ray fingers, two other types of fingers can be attached.

“Future applications for the MultiChoiceGripper are widespread in assembly and robotic tasks,” concludes Sands. “Until now, gripping multiple parts has required either time wasting tool changing, weight increasing multiple heads or even multiple handling arms.”