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What do elephants have to do with industry?



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Photo: Deutscher Zukunftspreis / Ansgar Pudenz

Elephants’ trunks are extremely flexible and good at grasping things. They allow the animals to make very precise movements without much effort. These properties inspired researchers from Fraunhofer IPA and Festo AG & Co. KG to base the design of their robotic arm on this important part of elephant anatomy. The new gripper can make trunk-like movements and interact directly with humans. Unlike conventional robotic arms, this one is extremely safe because it has no parts or sharp edges that could harm users. Redefining human-machine interaction is an important part of the Industry 4.0 project.

Saskia Blank from the Ideas 2020-Team answered this question.