6 Adaptive Robotic Grippers for Next Generation of Industrial Robots


The adaptive robotic hands are champions in objects handling skills and in transmitting the force and torque easily to almost any geometrical shape. With a common presence in industrial fields, the self-adaptive hands have a great potential for response to the flexibility requirements of the next industrial robot generation.

Engineered inspired by nature, the adaptive hands is the response of industrial robots to the well-known anthropomorphic robotic hands installed especially on humanoid robots. Using non-anthropomorphic robotic hands in the industry is necessary since there are heavy-duty working conditions and the complexity is not a real solution.

Besides simplicity, these smart hands have to be flexible, accurate, has to be designed for durability and to resist under high payloads.

Robotiq, Festo or Lego are pioneers in designing adaptive hands for industrial applications. If for Lego is just a chance for a moment, for Festo or Robotiq is a serious business.

The mission of these companies is to build simple, easy to control, and cheap hands. On the other hand, these plastic and metal adaptive grippers have to be fastest, robust, stronger, and repeatable.

All of these non-anthropomorphic robotic hands exist in a large variety of structures including here hands with two, three, five, or six fingers.

All the hands presented in this article use pneumatic technologies or electricity to move the mobile components of the hand. Almost all of these hands have a full control over the force and torque, as well over the finger position, give feedback for any movement, and sense everything.

An adaptive robotic hand is hard to be found in social applications, and it is a common presence of industrial robots.

I choose to explore six of the best adaptive robotic grippers with different design and different technologies that makes these flexible hands powerful tools for industrial use.


Inspired by the complex kinematic biological mechanism of the bird’s beak, PowerGripper is in front of this list due to the innovative solutions for a powerful gripper engineered for social and industrial applications.

Combined with another innovative technology from Festo, this time the DMSP-5 Fluidic artificial muscles, the prototype is a real model that implements both a mechanism from the birds with bionic technologies.

The basic material used to build the lightweight structure of the PowerGripper is the titanium alloy, which has a very impressive force-to-weight ratio.

It has a maximum opening of 56mm and weight only 482 grams and all of these by using the metal laser sintering process and the titanium alloy.

2-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper – 200

With only two fingers for grasping objects such as a cup of tea or a piece from the production line, the 2-finger adaptive robotic gripper from Robotiq has integrated all the four main features to be the best gripper in social and especially industrial applications.

With flexibility, precision, durability, and a high payload, the 200 uses the electricity to move the gripper parts, sense and grasp the objects.

With a simple design and a simplified installing system, the servo gripper can be controlled over a communication bus and offer feedback on object detection and the finger position for a delicate control.

3-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper

From the same category with the 2-finger adaptive gripper, the 3-finger adaptive gripper uses also the electricity to handle a wide variety of objects with different geometries and sizes.

With a clear evolution from the 2-finger version, the 3-finger gripper was designed to sense everything and in almost any conditions. The robot has a total control over the finger’s position, over the speed and over the force applied to objects.

A new direction was acquired and directed to advanced manufacturing processes where flexibility and accuracy are the main features.

The gripper is compatible with a wide range of communication protocols including here Ethernet/IP, TCP/IP, DeviceNet, CANopen, EtherCAT, Modbus RTU.

And because the gripper has to be attached to a robot, the Robotiq company behind the project open the gates and build an installation system compatible with all major robot manufacturers.

Darwin-OP D2 Han

The D2 hand is designed for any robot that uses the Dynamixel MX-28 as actuators, and was designed and tested successfully on the Darwin-OP human-like robot.

With support for Dynamixel actuators, the hand can be easily installed on any robot. It could be controlled with simple instructions and has a lightweight of only 700 grams.

The three adaptive fingers create real opportunities for Darwin-OP to be used in a wide range of applications in RoboCup competitions.

Flexible Robot Gripper

Fully programmable and with a design that resist at high temperature and in heavy duty working conditions, the Flexible Robot Gripper is a flexible end effector for industrial use especially for welding, machine tending and bin picking applications.

The three fingers fit perfectly on any variety of shapes including here flat or square objects, as well as cylindrical or irregular shapes.

As well as many of the Robotiq grippers, this one uses electricity to sense and apply force to objects.

Used in metal transformation, the gripper has a precise control of speed and finger position, which give you the opportunity to optimize the welding processes.

Even it can be used in industrial applications, it has some benefits that you should keep in mind. All these benefits refer to cost reduction, cutting the operational time, or solve some of the operational problems including the complex tooling.

Lego Pneumatic Robotic Hand

This could be the first advanced Lego application for industrial use, and this only using Lego electric motors and Lego bricks. With 10 degrees of freedom, the Lego adaptive hand is engineered to fit in almost any electronic industrial robot.

Its ability to adapt to any shape is due to the sophisticated actuated fingers connected to proximity and rotation sensor and controlled by the RCX programmable brick.

Four electric motors are located in the base of the hand. One motor is used for opening the fingers, while another one is used for closing the hand. Another electric motor is used for finger orientation, while the fourth motor is used for hand rotation.


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