We took a step backwards to explain the future to you.

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qbrobotics has again used Mechalogical to create a unique gripper. It seems like a traditional claw but smarter and with the ability to adapt to whatever object it is gripping. A secure and precise grip capable of lifting an iron ball without dropping it or a cream puffs without ruining it, you’ll only need to “tell her” to be strong or soft. Say bye to the long strings of programming, just three words: Soft, Medium, Strong.

qb SoftClaw is a compact, light and versatile Variable Stiffness gripper.

The core of this gripper is the qbmove Advanced, which is an excellent development platform already equipped with motors, electronics and elastic system. On the rear side there’s a mechanical interface compliant to ISO9409-1 and a standard electronic connector to interface with any robotic arm. The mobile finger is driven by the actuator’s shaft, so it can perform a soft movement to grasp objects avoiding damages on critical parts, or a steady grasp by increasing the stiffness; instead, the fixed finger is directly connected to the frame. The gripper is used by deflection control between the equilibrium position and the output shaft. Thanks to this control, objects of different dimension can be grasped giving the same closure reference (e.g. fully closed) and with the same stiffness for every positions.

Conventional grippers are equipped with a rigid mechanical actuation and can grasp more or less fragile objects only through direct controls on the applied force, therefore using force sensors, or indirect control through the absorbed current. Both of these approaches require specific algorithms and dedicated sensors, which involve limits on the dynamic response times, greater quantity of signals to be managed, higher hardware and software costs. Vice versa, the qb SoftClaw is able to grasp objects of the most disparate nature, exploiting the intrinsic mechanical intelligence of its variable stiffness system, without the use of any type of sensors on the contact surfaces or specific algorithms on the absorbed current by the motors. These aspects make it a versatile, light, economical and very easy to use device. Figure 1 shows the same grasp with different deflection preset. 

Figure 1: Grasp of two different objects by the same closure reference and different deflection preset. Thanks to the deflection control it can easy grasp a fragile object without damage, or a heavy weight.

The gripper offers many development possibilities of geometry and interfaces of fingers; in particular, you can quick change the magnetic finger-pads provided in different shapes that you can also customize.