Over the past few decades, robotics has emerged at an unparalleled rate. But many robots remain rigid, noisy, and heavy.
Now, the TU Dresden (Technische Universitat Dresden) spin-off PowerON seeks to alter that. Its goal is to collapse the barrier between robots and humans. The next generation of robotics will feature fabricated muscles, sensory skins, and artificial neurons printed on flexible materials, thereby setting the stage for new fields of application.
We’re observing a drastic upward trend in automation across all areas of industry and will soon see more of this in our everyday life.
Dr. Markus Henke, Junior Research Group Leader, Institute of Semiconductors and Microsystems, Technische Universitat Dresden
Dr. Henke is also the CEO of PowerON.
The start-up makes use of the outcomes of collaborative research performed by TU Dresden and the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where Markus Henke finished a two-year postdoc fellowship following his doctorate at the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
In close partnership with TU Dresden, he and the local group utilized the scientific foundations of multifunctional dielectric elastomers in soft robotics as part of a Marie Curie Fellowship granted by the European Commission.
Upon his return to TU Dresden, he and his collaborators started PowerON with the help and assistance of a start-up grant and venture capital funding.
“Once the technology is advanced enough, we expect to encounter robots not just in the industry but also in our daily lives.”
Accordingly, the PowerON team wishes to make use of its very first product—a kind of sensory fingertip for industrial robots—to considerably extend the field of robots and allow traditional robot grippers to execute highly delicate tasks.
These could prove beneficial for handling delicate items like eggs or test tubes, harvesting vegetables and fruits, eliminating rubber products from injection molds, or even being implemented in medical care and at home.
The initial practical tests are all set to start in the coming weeks.
PowerON functions closely with TU Dresden and is a collaborator in the large-scale research project “6G-life.”
This partnership is a testament to the cooperation potential between science and industry and how such collaborative projects can contribute to quickly transferring scientific findings into commercial products.
Andreas Richter, Professor and Director, Institute of Semiconductors and Microsystems, Technische Universitat Dresden
SAXONY! TechTalk with PowerOn 06 12 2022
Video Credit: Technische Universitat Dresden.