Developing lightweight robots and exoskeletons in modular design

Exoskeletons from the modular system, e.g. for use in rehabilitation, must be light and adapted easily to the different tasks

Designing lightweight robots for various movement tasks in an automated way and adapting them easily to use in rehabilitation, household, crafts or care - that is the goal of a joint research project in which HAWE Hydraulik is currently participating. The high power density of the hydraulics should minimize the moving masses and increase the efficiency and thus the service life per battery charge.

Together with the Technical University of Munich and voxeljet AG from Friedberg, HAWE Hydraulik SE has started a research project for the development of lightweight robots, so-called exoskeletons. The project, which is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, is pursuing the goal of building, adapting and manufacturing  lightweight robots for various movement tasks and applications out of a modular design kit. HAWE is very familiar with modular products. All of the company's power units, pumps and valves follow this principle, which is a simple and cost-effective way of meeting the different requirements of customers and generating customer-specific solutions quickly and at optimized cost.

The research project will use intelligent design algorithms as well as develop basic software. "The crucial target parameter of the automated design process is the radical reduction of development time in the design of robots. These should be comparable in size and shape to a human arm and be versatile in use (e.g. rehabilitation, household, handicraft, care) due to variable end effectors." says the project description.

For this purpose, HAWE Hydraulik provides a very compact and lightweight electrohydraulic drive system consisting of a compact power unit, hose system and cylinder. The necessary interfaces, which are then used in portable (exoskeleton), mobile (robot system) or even stationary systems, also come from HAWE. By means of 3D printing, thin-walled lightweight structures with long cavities and small diameters can be realized, e.g. for integrated hose feed-throughs, thus enabling further weight savings. Every gram counts, since the user should not be burdened with a high additional weight, but rather be relieved during the execution of movements or work.