From research to industrial production

In just a few years, the qb SoftHand Research received positive feedback in various areas, leading qbrobotics to tap into market demand leading to a new breakthrough. In 2019, qbrobotics introduced a novel product, destined solely for industry use: the qb SoftHand Industry.

qb SoftHand Industry, the robotic hand patented and certified for industry use

The first robotic hand for industrial applications with IP 65 started from the developments of Soft Hand Robotics and moved onto new horizons. The device was developed according to the main standards and certification of industrial and collaborative robotics (such as EN ISO 12100:2010 and ISO/TS 15066:2016). The technical solutions responsible for its creation were patented.

Thanks to the materials used and a flexible system, the qb SoftHand Industry is safe from a hardware point of view, even in the case of impact with an operator. Soon it was included in the UR+ Ecosystem and Doosan Mate of Doosan robotics. At this point, qbrobotics’ dream toward soft robotics in the future had become reality.

The Innovation Award in 2019 and company quality

The project that brought to the development of the collaborative robotic hand received the Innovation Award 2019 from the Pisa Chamber of Commerce. This recognition served as confirmation of the company’s activity in terms of territorial development and innovative processes. The motivation for this award was the transformation of qbrobotics’ business model from an R&D company to a production company for the creation and marketing of the qb SoftHand line.

The search for constant innovation led qbrobotics to create qblab, an internal robotics laboratory to test and develop new product lines. Also in 2019 the SoftHands were presented for the first time in Japan at the stands of local businesses Nihon Binary and Revast at RoboDEX, the 4th Robot Development & Application Expo. In the same year, in addition to being registered as an innovative SME, qbrobotics became affiliated with the Pisan Industrial Association.

In 2020 qbrobotics also joined the International Federation of Robotics, a promoter of research, development, use and international cooperation in the field of robotics. By pursuing a work quality policy, the company adopted a Quality Management System compliant with the UNI EN ISO 9001: 2015 standard suitable for achieving its objectives. Meanwhile, research and production continued to forge ahead.

ReconCycle, the SoftHand Claw and qbrobotics‘ drive to the future

The year 2020 also marked the beginning of a new project: H2020 ReconCycle (Self-reconfiguration of a robotic workcell for the recycling of electronic waste), aimed at introducing a high level of automation in the recycling of electronic waste, a rapidly growing economic and environmental sector where manual labor is still predominant.

The aim of ReconCycle is to design robots with flexible adaptation, capable of self-reconfiguring in their workspace in order to overcome the rigid programming of current industrial robots, for which any modification requires expensive hardware and software restructuring. The recycling of electronic waste proves to be an excellent field of experimentation since it involves the management of large batches of identical devices, yet different in model and state of damage. In addition, the use of soft-robotics in the end-effectors allows operators and machines to cooperate in total safety in order to complete any missing steps.

In this context, the latest solution developed by qbrobotics is the qb SoftClaw, a gripper that adjusts the gripping force to adapt to rigid and delicate objects. To do this, it uses the mechanical intelligence of its system, without sensors on the contact surfaces. Here, the patented VS technology thus takes the form of a collaborative end-effector: the result is a versatile, light and easy-to-use device. In 2021, qbrobotics added it to Universal Robot’s Ecosystem of plug&play solutions, as a partner of the UR + program.

Starting from man-machine interaction and staying true to its values, qbrobotics has carved out an ever-growing space itself for a decade since its inception. Today, the use of naturally soft devices is increasingly in demand in the innovative industrial automation market, the spread of service robotics and the design of humanoid robots, and qbrobotics will continue to play its part.