These grippers are giving bots a helping hand

IDG News Service | Apr 18, 2017

Sake Robotics is creating the "hands" that will help robots pick things up and put them down.

Track 1: This gripper is giving robots a helping hand.

Track 2: For many companies, automation is becoming a key part of their workflow. And in order for a robot to be able to do its job, it needs to be able to handle objects.

SOT (Ekas): 00:22
“As robots move into unstructured environments, and can start doing useful work, like clean the house someday, one of the big markets is just the ability to pick stuff up and put it down.”

Track 3: That’s why Paul Ekas developed the EZGripper, which can be mounted to a variety of robotic arms and can pick up items ranging from something as thin as a pen to a bulky liter and a half bottle of water.

Track 4: During our demonstration, Ekas manually controlled the grip strength used by the gripper, but says that this would usually be done by advanced robotic brains.

SOT (Ekas):
“Robots will have vision, they’ll have different sensors, they will recognize objects, they already do that today, and when they recognize an object, they know how to pick it up.”

Track 5: Each gripper costs $1,600 and takes about an hour to manufacture. Ekas says that several international companies are already using EZgripper with their robots and demand is likely to grow.

SOT (Ekas)
“…companies like Amazon or any of the logistics companies right now are all looking at this technology. And then as you start going farther in time, you are gonna start seeing service robotics do stuff in food industry, or in hospitals, and then some day, they are gonna come into our house and do useful work.”

Track 6: In fact, Amazon has already shown interest in vamping up its distribution facilities. Ekas says that two of his customers are entering the Amazon Robotics Challenge, which requires teams to build their own hardware and software for picking and stowing items on shelves.

SOT (Ekas)
“My goal is to have our grippers on the front end of robots that we all want to interact with.”