Festo Sets New Standard with First Pneumatic Cobot

A robot that is easy to operate, does not require a safety fence, and attractively priced paves the way for a whole new era in human-robot collaboration. This new era is now dawning with the world’s first pneumatic robot from Festo AG.

Hardly any industrial market segment will grow as rapidly over the next few years as human-robot collaboration. Collaborative robots (cobots) relieve employees of particularly strenuous or monotonous tasks, thus giving them new levels of freedom and making their work easier and healthier. No other technology has such a sensitive and flexible approach to human-robot collaboration as pneumatics.

The Festo Cobot is the first pneumatics cobot on the market.

The Benefits of Pneumatics

The Festo Cobot owes many of its advantages, such as its sensitivity, weight and value for money, to the benefits of pneumatics. The direct drives in the articulated joints are very cost-effective and particularly lightweight. Unlike electric solutions, no heavy gear units or expensive force-torque sensors are required. The world’s first pneumatic cobot is a result of the exceptional expertise in controlled pneumatics from Festo.

Cost-Effective Option

The Festo Cobot makes using cobots even cost-effective for small and medium-sized companies (SMCs). This is so, as SMEs often rely on manual work processes. The flexible application options allow small batch sizes or work steps to be processed automatically. It is quick and easy to get to grips with, thanks to its uniquely intuitive and simple commissioning and programming. Moreover, it does not require extensive training .

The pneumatic Festo Cobot will be cheaper than electric cobots in the same class. It will provide excellent value for money in its main application area of small parts handling with payloads of up to 3kg.

 “When it goes on sale in 2023, the Festo Cobot will set new standards in human-robot collaboration with its ease of use,” explains Dr. Frank Melzer, Member of the Management Board for Product and Technology Management at Festo.

Easy to Operate and Flexible to Use

The Festo Cobot consists of the hardware, handheld module, and the Robotic Suite software for intuitive commissioning and programming. This package makes it possible to commission and program the Cobot in less than an hour. Prior knowledge of robotics is not required either because the self-explanatory Robotic Suite software contains clearly visualized and standardized function blocks. Pneumatic drives enable the robot arm to be easily guided by hand and without any resistance. Thus, waypoints or paths can be taught quickly and precisely.

Cobots are only attractive if they can practically and quickly take on a new task and are not just intended to be permanently used for the same purpose. This is especially true for SMCs. The Festo Cobot meets this requirement as it doesn’t require an additional control cabinet, which is difficult to connect and cumbersome. The compact controller integrated in its own base makes it particularly flexible. Simple connections also allow it to be used ad hoc without long changeover times. Common bus standards enable fast connection to higher-order controllers. Also, it requires less space.

Thanks to state-of-the-art, lightweight construction methods, the Festo Cobot weighs only 17kg. This feature allows it to be used quickly and flexibly at another location.

Working Safer and Faster

The Festo Cobot is just like a human arm, with a length of 670mm. It has the right reach for it to be perceived as a helping third hand when working with a member of staff. It moves like a real colleague within a manageable radius. Thanks to the flexibility of the pneumatic drives, the cobot acts sensitively at a speed appropriate to the situation and with fluid, harmonious movements. It is as soft to the touch as human contact.

The cobot’s pneumatic direct drives and its light weight reduce its contact energy. Christian Tarragona, Head of Robotics at Festo, says, “Thanks to precise pressure regulators in the articulated joints, the robot recognizes when it is being touched and responds with appropriate safety functions.” Employees can work together with their careful technical colleague in complete safety.

Dr. Frank Melzer (left), Member of the Management Board for Product and Technology Management and Christian Tarragona (right), Head of Robotics at Festo