The Cooperative Project BioRob

BioRob Prototype
Functional model of the new BioRob manipulator

In the scope of the BioRob project, a novel type of compliant robot arms for applications in automation is being developed and tested. The series elastic actuation inspired by the human antagonistic muscle-tendon apparatus enables high passive safety in the direct working environment of humans without the need for additional safety precautions.

The antagonistic coupling of the manipulator links reduces the bending stress and allows for an overall lightweight design. The result is an excellent payload to dead weight ratio and reduced energy consumption.

Furthermore, the use of reliable, well established hardware components applied in a new, innovative combination and controlled by tailored software, offers the potential for a cost-effective production and maintenance at adequate quantities. No further costs arise for additional technical safety systems, even when using the manipulator in applications with direct human robot interaction.

Biological Background

BioRob Inspiration
Inspiration from the biological locomotor system

Conventional industrial manipulators stand in clear constrast to the biological movement apparatus. Unlinke the heavy links of a robot, the biological apparatus is a stress optimized lightweight construction. In addition, the special properties of the biological "motors", the muscles, such as their elasticity, play an important role for movement control.


Particularly in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) many routine jobs today still elude automation. This is partly due to the fact that there are no affordable and flexible manipulators available on the market that can be deployed in the surrounding area of human workers without extensive safety systems.


Fest der Ideen
Elastobot at the
"Fest der Ideen" (1997)

The idea for the BioRob manipulator dates back to 1995 when Prof. Dr. Bernhard Möhl studied the differences between technical and biological movement apparatuses in the then new founded course specialization "Technical Biology and Bionics" of the Saarland University.

The first laboratory model, at that time called "Elastobot", was build after a two year period of fundamental research and was subsequently applied for a patent. The results and experience of the following enhancement process are incorporated in the development of the new BioRob manipulator.


The functioning and systematic design of a robot arm based on bionic construction and actuation principles particularly with regard to industrial applications was examined in a feasibility studie, funded by the first "Bionik-Ideenwettbewerb" of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.