Festo announced its pneumatic collaborative robot (cobot) arm at the Festo TechTalk 2022 earlier today. The company plans to make the cobot commercially available in 2023.
The cobot uses six pneumatic direct drives, instead of the typical electric motors and mechanical transmission, to move. Each of the six drives consists of a circular chamber with a moveable partition. Differences in air pressure on either side of the partition wall in the chamber cause the it to shift, which then moves the joint.
Festo’s pneumatic cobot has many advantages over typical cobots. The high energy density of compressed air means that the cobot can be moved precisely even without complex force-torque sensors.
The arm is equipped with precise pressure regulators in the joints, meaning the robot knows when it’s touched by a human and can respond accordingly, according to Festo’s Head of Robotics Christian Tarragona.
The cobot has a 670 mm reach and a 3 kg payload. It weight around 17 kg, due to its use of die-cast aluminum. Because all of its relevant systems are integrated into the foot section of the robot, it doesn’t require an additional control cabinet.
Festo’s cobot can be programmed similarly to many other cobots on the market. The company’s robotic suite software offers the option of programming the arm with an operating device and predefined skills. The robot can also be programmed with hand-guiding. Getting the cobot ready for pick-and-place tasks can take less than an hour, according to the company.
While Festo did not reveal any exact price information during the presentation, Festo CEO Frank Mezler said that the company plans to keep the price lower than an electrically driven cobot. The product comes with the cobot itself, a hand modules, the Robotic Suite and software for intuitive commissioning and programming.
Festo was founded in 1925 in Esslingen, Germany, and has been family-owned for three generations. The company offers around 33,000 different products ranging from automation technology to learning systems, training and consulting.