One robotic arm to grasp them all is developed at Ben-Gurion University
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One robotic arm to grasp them all is developed at Ben-Gurion University

BGU researchers say their algorithm can identify a common denominator for differently shaped items on a production line, so manufacturers would need only 1 robot limb to hold them

The robotic arm developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that uses an algorithm to calculate the shape of objects and allows it to grasp objects with a variety of geometries (Courtesy)
The robotic arm developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that uses an algorithm to calculate the shape of objects and allows it to grasp objects with a variety of geometries (Courtesy)

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say they have developed a one-size-fits-all robotic arm for use in manufacturing processes that is able to grasp items of various shapes, thus cutting costs and increasing versatility in production lines.

When product manufacturers automate their processes, they often have to design robots with different arms for every individual task so that they’re able to firmly hold on to each part they need to handle, which come in different shapes.

Designing, manufacturing and installing the various graspers on each robot on the production line is costly and time consuming, however.

The invention, developed by Prof. Amir Shapiro and Dr. Avishay Sintov from BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, relies on a newly developed search algorithm that is able to assess the various areas to be grasped in specific parts — 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, thus enabling the design of one robotic arm that will be able to handle all the parts.

“This seemingly simple solution is based on a 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, who does business development in Exact Sciences and Engineering for BGN Technologies, in a statement. BGN is the technology transfer company of the university, which brings technological innovations from the lab to the market.

BGN has filed patents to protect the invention, and is now seeking “a strategic partner for the further development and commercialization of the technology,” Staier said.

BGN Technologies has established over 100 startup companies in the fields of biotech, high-tech, and cleantech as well as initiating leading technology hubs, incubators, and accelerators, the statement said.

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