German gripping systems company Schunk has won this year's Hermes Award, what many consider one of the world’s most prestigious industrial technology awards. The award was presented during the Hannover Messe opening ceremony on April 23 by Germany’s Minister for Education and Research, Johanna Wanka.
Schunk's JL1 co-act gripper is an intelligent modular gripping system for human-robot collaboration that is capable of directly interacting and communicating with its human operator. The JL1’s integrated sensor systems effectively envelop the module in its own safety bubble by continually tracking the proximity of humans and triggering evasive action to avoid any direct human-machine contact. They also enable the module to grip, handle and assemble objects of all geometries. The module’s jaws are able to measure gripping force and have tactile sensors, so their operation is adaptive and responsive. The sensor constellation also includes two cameras that enable the gripper to see its surroundings in 3D and help it to detect workpieces.
The award jury was headed by Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).
"Safe and barrier-free human-robot collaboration in Industry 4.0 manufacturing operations with small production runs, high component diversity and frequent retooling is only possible if every part of the manufacturing system is intelligent, right down to the end effector level. SCHUNK’s JL1 is a perfect example of a state-of-the-art, smart end effector, which is why the jury has chosen it as this year’s winning entry," Dr. Wahlster said.
"The company’s award-winning solution supports human-robot collaboration, making it a vital part of the smart factory tool kit," said Dr. Jochen Köckler, the Deutsche Messe Managing Board member in charge of Hannover Messe. It is therefore a perfect fit for Hannover Messe, which this year will once again play a key role in reflecting and driving the ongoing development of Industry 4.0."
The following companies were also nominated for this year’s Hermes Award: AGS-Verfahrenstechnik GmbH (Stade, Germany), Augumenta (Oulu, Finland), Linz Center of Mechatronics (Linz, Austria) and Noonee AG (Zurich, Switzerland).