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Schunk wins Hermes Award for AI kit that simplifies handling

23 April, 2024

The German gripper manufacturer Schunk has won this year’s Hermes Award for technological innovation at the 2024 Hannover Messe industrial fair in Germany. The award is for Schunk’s AI-powered 2D grasping kit which simplifies the autonomous handling of objects in random positions. No expert knowledge of programming or image processing is needed to set up a gripping application.

The kit can pick and handle randomly arranged parts on a conveyor belt or tray – even if the light, colour or background conditions are changing. It allows repetitive sorting or logistics tasks to be automated at a relatively low cost.

The kit consists of a machine vision camera, an industrial PC, software and an application-specific gripper. These components can be combined with any robot and control system.

At the heart of the system is the AI software which is combined with an intuitive user interface. The AI models variants component and transfers the data to a smaller training set, cutting the recognition learning times.

Users need no prior knowledge of programming or image processing. Once set up, the software provides step-by-step guidance through the gripping teach-in process. Once objects have been photographed and named, the AI trains itself, offline.

Schunk’s award-winning 2D grasping kit

Two other companies were shortlisted for the Hermes Award. Bosch Rexroth was nominated for an automated system for dismantling and recycling electric vehicle batteries, which is designed to speed up the process of transporting, diagnosing, discharging and recycling the batteries. Energy discharged from the batteries is used to power the process or is fed into the grid. Recycling allows up to 95% of a battery’s chemical elements to be returned to the production process.

The other shortlisted entrant was Siemens, for a CO2 management tool which makes emissions along the entire supply chain transparent in real time. It uses actual data and allows for mapping throughout the supply chain to help reduce carbon footprints.

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