In the manufacturing field, one pressing question has always lingered: how can we enhance our ability to grasp objects with greater flexibility and dexterity? This question lies at the heart of the HARTU project, a mission that binds a comprehensive consortium of partners, including the Department of Mechanics, Mathematics, and Management (DMMM) at Politecnico di Bari and Omnigrasp SRL.
At the core of this innovative technology lies the concept of a versatile and dexterous soft gripper. These soft grippers are designed with compliant fingers, allowing them to deftly manipulate a wide array of objects, each with its own unique and often complex shape. HARTU innovatively integrates electro-active materials in gripper fingertips, ensuring enhanced functionality, cost-effectiveness, and mechanical simplicity in the process.
These Electro-Active (EA) fingertips developed within the HARTU project introduce the ability to toggle adhesion on and off and control the friction coefficient using electrical signals. They have the capacity to alter surface properties with precision. This allows secure handling of objects from small and delicate to large and heavy, minimising damage risk.
The fabrication process for these EA fingertips draws upon Omnigrasp’s expertise in producing electroactive membranes. Additionally, their design is guided by studies on Electroactive Tribology conducted by Politecnico di Bari, ensuring a robust scientific foundation for this new technology.
But what truly sets this project apart is the combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies for planning, perception, and gripper control. This infusion of AI-driven Mechanical Intelligence, coupled with the capabilities of the EA fingertips, promises a leap in versatility that can able the automation of tasks that are currently beyond the capabilities of existing grippers.