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Future grippers will harness AI to operate autonomously

14 June, 2019

At the 2019 Hannover Fair, the gripper specialist Schunk announced that it is collaborating with the French artificial intelligence (AI) expert, AnotherBrain, to develop the world's first autonomous gripping system. The technology will allow handling operations to be performed without any manual programming.

Until now, every step in the gripping process has had to be programmed laboriously. Schunk believes that, in future, handling systems will be able to act autonomously ­– independent from the cloud and networks, and with a minimum need for energy and memory.

Instead of defining positions, speeds and gripping forces step-by-step, autonomous gripping systems will detect target objects via cameras, plan the gripping process, and improve it continuously. They will sense the quality of the grip and readjust it if necessary, using a combination of gripper fingers with integrated sensors and intelligence, and measurements of motor currents.

CEO Henrik Schunk is convinced that the cooperation with AnotherBrain “will significantly and smartly accelerate the progress in autonomous handling”. He expects the first autonomous grippers to be demonstrated during 2020.

Schunk’s CEO, Henrik Schunk (left) signs an agreement with AnotherBrain’s founder and CEO, Bruno Maisonnier (right), at the Hannover Fair

“This promising cooperation will help us to push forward the use of artificial intelligence in the field of handling and assembly,” he adds, “and to create new handling scenarios in the smart factory – and also in the field of service robotics”.

Unlike established deep learning, where data is generated and evaluated with considerable effort, AnotherBrain applies a biologically-inspired approach to machine learning that it calls Organic AI.

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