News about human-robot collaboration: The world’s first pneumatic cobot automation

News about human-robot collaboration

12 May 2022 at 12:13 | Andrew Knoll

As the first pneumatic robot on the market, the Festo Cobot is easy to operate, does not need a protective fence and is said to be attractively priced.
As the first pneumatic robot on the market, the Festo Cobot is easy to operate, does not need a protective fence and is said to be attractively priced.

Festo has presented what it says is the world’s first pneumatic cobot. Its pneumatic elements make “Festo Cobot” particularly sensitive when working with its human counterparts.

Hardly any other industrial market segment will grow as fast in the next few years as human-robot collaboration. Cobots relieve people of particularly exhausting or monotonous tasks: Employees are given new freedom, their work becomes easier and healthier. According to Festo, human-robot collaboration is more sensitive than with flexible pneumatics with any other technology.

Benefits thanks to pneumatics

“Festo Cobot” owes many of its advantages, such as its sensitivity, its weight or its price-performance ratio to the advantages of pneumatics: the direct drives in its joints are cheap and particularly light because, unlike electrical solutions, there is no gear and power torque sensors are required. In general, Festo, as a company that grew up with pneumatics and has gradually worked its way into electronics, sees its cobot as a result of its extraordinary expertise in controlled pneumatics.

Economic opportunity – also for small and medium-sized businesses

With its cobot, Festo wants to make the use of cobots economical for small and medium-sized companies, which are often characterized by manual work processes. The company wants to achieve this through flexible applications: Even small batch sizes or work steps can now be processed automatically. Because the cobot can be commissioned and programmed intuitively and easily, the training period is short and efficient – no complex training measures are required.

Festo wants to offer its pneumatic cobot at a lower price than electric cobots in this class. The robot must have an attractive price-performance ratio in its primary area of ​​application, as it handles small parts with a payload of up to 3 kg. “When sales start in 2023, Festo Cobot will set new standards in human-robot collaboration with its ease of use,” emphasizes Dr. Frank Melzer, Director of Product and Technology Management at Festo.

Easy to use and flexible to use

Its integrated pneumatics make Festo Cobot sensitive when working with human employees.
Its integrated pneumatics make Festo Cobot sensitive when working with human employees.

Festo Cobot consists of the robot hardware itself, a hand module and “Robotic Suite”, software for intuitive commissioning and programming. This package is intended to enable users to get the cobot up and running in less than an hour. Prior knowledge of robot technology is not necessary because the self-explanatory software “Robotic Suite” contains clearly visualized and standardized function blocks. Pneumatic drives enable manual and resistance-free control of the robot arm in the hand to learn waypoints and paths quickly and accurately.

For small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, cobots are only attractive if they can carry out a new task pragmatically and quickly and are not only intended for permanent use. Festo Cobot should meet this requirement: it does not require an additional control cabinet. With its integrated control in its own foot section, it is extremely flexible. Simple plug-in connections also enable ad hoc use without long switch-on times. With standard bus standards, fast connection to superior controls is possible. Thanks to lightweight construction methods, the Festo Cobot weighs only 17 kg, so it can be used quickly and flexibly in different places.

Safe and faster work

As a human arm, the Festo Cobot has an appropriate range of 670 mm to be perceived as a helping third hand in teamwork with employees. Like real colleagues, he moves within a manageable radius. Thanks to the flexibility of the pneumatic drives, the cobot works sensitively – at a speed that suits the situation, in fluid, harmonious movements. According to Festo, when touched, it is as soft as human contact.

Coboten’s pneumatic direct drive and its low weight reduce its contact energy. “Thanks to precise pressure regulators in the joints, the robot recognizes when it is touched and responds with the appropriate safety features,” explains Christian Tarragona, Head of Robotics at Festo. “Employees can therefore work with their technical colleagues without risk.”


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