Wisson robotics, founded in 2019, launches the NimboTM pliable robotic manipulator series to the global market, based on the patented Pliabot® technology resulting from over a decade of scientific research, offering unparalleled combinations of compliance, dexterity, lightweight, and safety, providing scenario-oriented solutions to robotic services across a variety of applications. The most iconic innovations include the use of patented Pliabot® compliant muscles as motion generation units and compact high-speed pneumatic controllers, in contrast to electric motors in conventional robotic manipulators.
From the emergence of robotic manipulators in the late 20th century, the primary criteria of optimization had always leaned towards industrial manufacturing, where industrial robotic manipulators were expected to transcend human physical capabilities in terms of speed, accuracy, and payload. Moving from safety cages in factories towards people-dense natural environments of the mass population, strength and power quickly became less applicable, replaced by new core challenges such as interaction safety, environmental adaptability, and energy efficiency. The emerging Cobot (collaborative robots) technology was targeting such performance indices, but was fundamentally constrained by the same motor-joint paradigm inherited from industrial robots, resulting in even higher reliance in precision manufacturing and high-frequency advanced control algorithms, both hindering its cost-effectiveness, fail-safety, and adaptability to random changes.
Powered by Pliabot®, a fundamental actuator-level innovation
In recent years, multiple drivers have pushed the service robots industry to surpass manufacturing industrial robots in terms of annual growth, ranging from global population aging and general labor shortage, to consumer upgrading and AI-availability. This calls for new, intelligent robots to be able to work interactively in natural human-dense environments safely, efficiently, effectively, and economically. Such robots are required to have manipulators that are dexterous, flexible, adaptive to physical interactions, as well as having a high payload-to-weight ratio.
Wisson offers the patented Pliabot® technology, aiming at the above emerging needs of service robot applications, based on over a decade of scientific research. The core of the Pliabot® technology is the deployable structure pliable robotic muscles made from compliant materials, driven by pneumatics or hydraulics by the proprietary integrated motion control platform SlimDriveTM, paired with intelligent algorithmic platform SlimEngineTM. Together they form a groundbreaking paradigm of using compliant materials and fluidic drive to make safe, flexible, dexterous, lightweight, but strong and accurate robotic manipulators specifically for service robots.
Four primary advantages enabling a new horizon of service robot applications
Wisson’s NimboTM pliable manipulator series, with mechanistically guaranteed fail-safety and impact safety, human-arm level payload-to-weight ratio and accuracy, pave the way to a brand new horizon of wider applications for service robots. The primary performance advantages include:
Dexterity and flexibility. The Wisson NimboTM series manipulators were developed on the proprietary Pliabot® platform technology, following a completely distinctive core structure from conventional motor-based robotic manipulators. Instead of having multiple electric motors as joints, a series (often dozens) of flexible Pliabot® muscles form a network, parallelly into joints and sequentially into a manipulator. Kinematic redundancy could easily be achieved by stacking multiple joints each containing a corresponding number of muscles, allowing the manipulator to posture infinitely in space to reach a particular target of operation. With the muscles being compliant, the pneumatic actuation medium being compressible, and the kinematics being easily redundant, the resulting NimboTM pliable manipulators could have substantial dexterity equivalent to 6-to-7-DoF or above in rigid motor-driven manipulators, as well as inherent flexibility and impact safety even with controller failure or power off.
Ultra-high payload-to-weight ratio. Payload-to-weight ratio reflects a robot’s workload capacity per unit weight. Due to material-level and structure-level innovations, Wisson NimboTM series pliable manipulators could achieve over 1:1 payload-to-weight ratio, and topping at 3:1 maximum ratio at certain postures, approaching and surpassing human-arm capacities. Compared with Cobots (0.2-0.3:1 typically) and industrial manipulators (0.1:1 typically), the NimboTM pliable manipulators have substantially lower inertial but remarkably higher strength per unit weight, making them safe and energy-efficient by manifolds, ideal for mobile applications and close-proximity deployments with humans.
Interaction safety. The core to service robots is interaction. Interacting with people, environments, handling objects, performing inspections, cleaning various surfaces, service robots are destined to maneuver through complex environments handling random situations while frequently performing physical interactions. This calls for unconditional, guaranteed interaction safety under all circumstances. With the patented Pliabot® core technology, Wisson NimboTM pliable manipulators are based on flexible muscle structures paired with SlimEngineTM tri-loop advanced feedback control, ensuring timely and effective adaptation to both routine task interactions and unpredicted environmental incidences; and under the worst circumstances such as power down or mechanistic failure, the natural compliance from both the material and structure could ensure bottom-line safety to avoid damages to both the environment and the robot.
Outstanding environmental resistance. With virtually no seams and gaps typically seen in conventional motor-based rigid robots, Wisson NimboTM pliable manipulators could achieve a list of remarkable characteristics of high durability and environmental resistance: waterproof, moisture-proof, dustproof, radiation enhancement, corrosion resistance, ultra-high voltage resistance, etc. Designed to endure hash environments, NimboTM could be deployed outdoors for long-term operations. It could be particularly suitable for extreme environments such as dust, muddy, oil, electromagnetic radiation, hydraulic pressure, etc.
The NimboTM manipulator enables a series of scenario-oriented end-products
Based on market research and industrial customer analysis, Wisson has developed the NimboTM series pliable manipulators with three distinctive lines, the KN600, KN800, and KN1000, and derived several service robot end-products based on them towards a variety of application scenarios, including the Orion series flying pliable robots for low-altitude inspection and maintenance operations, the Draco series ground operation pliable robots for industrial inspection and maintenance operations, and the Centaur series dual-arm ground manipulation pliable robots for precise manipulation operations in disaster relief and other public service applications.
NimboTM pliable manipulators, small size, high strength
Wisson NimboTM series pliable manipulators were developed based on the proprietary pliable core technologies, the Pliabot® high-performance bionic muscles, the SlimDriveTM high-precision pneumatic controllers, and the SlimEngineTM flexible intelligent algorithm platform. Thanks to the fundamental breakthroughs offered by those platform technologies, the NimboTM series pliable manipulators could achieve substantial performance advantages, keeping well balances between strength and weight, compliance and precision, while having outstanding environmental resistance. The series were further optimized into three distinctive product lines, the KN600, KN800, and KN1000 manipulators, each with unique kinematic structure and configurations, aiming towards different end-product application scenarios:
KN600 Series lightweight pliable robotic manipulators: 20 pliable muscles, 7 pliable DOFs, designed for lightweight general mobile operations and humanoid service operations with omnidirectional flexible installation;
KN800 Series retractable pliable robotic manipulators: 21 pliable muscles, 3 pliable DOFs, designed for aerial and hoisting operations, with 360 degrees flexibility and up to 15kg maximum payload, with a large expansion ratio for working in tight spaces, matching with various UAV platforms, hoisting platforms, and hanging rail robot platforms;
KN1000 Series pliable-rigid hybrid robotic manipulators: 8 muscles and 3 motors, enabling 3 pliable DOFs and 3 conventional rigid DOFs, designed for flexible operations with large workspace and omni-directional installation, achieving large-range, high-precision, high-speed flexible motion. The K1000 series are suitable for various mobile or stationary platforms for inspection, operation, flexible handling and logistics applications.
Orion flying arms, a revolutionary solution to precision aerial manipulation
Current mainstream UAV applications including aerial observation, geographic terrain mapping and agricultural operations assistance, do not require frequent physical contact or interaction between the UAV and the environment, focus on observation rather than intervention. However, with the expansion of customers’ operational demands from observational operations to interventional or precision manipulations, UAVs need to be equipped with robotic manipulators for dexterous operations that are lightweight, strong, dexterous, and power efficient.
The Wisson Orion series flying pliable robots are comprised of retractable pliable manipulators mounted underneath commercial drones, forming complete solutions for remote aerial operations with direct physical interactions. This series offer unique characteristics of retractability, inherent flexibility, large payload with lightweight, remarkable environmental resistance, meanwhile, it is easy to mount with the UAV with diversified interfaces, and can be equipped with vision, olfaction, audition and other sensors as needed for maintenance, object transfer, and precision manipulation applications in petrochemical plants, energy and chemical industry, disaster rescue and other commercial or public services.
Draco ground operation platform, the omnipotent inspection robot
The Wisson Draco series includes three models designed based on Wisson proprietary MP series mobile platform and Pliabot technology, each with different working range and functions. The robot series have excellent mobility and autonomous navigation covering most indoor and outdoor scenarios due to the compact design. The platform can flexibly mount a variety of payloads including PTZ camera, pliable robotic manipulators, detection sensors and other modules. It can perform low, medium, high and multi-angle three-dimensional inspections based on the inspection equipment, and can manipulate various objects such as doors, press buttons, and change positions for data reading and testing. In addition, it can be flexibly equipped with different types of manipulator modules and lifting modules according to actual scenarios and operating requirements. The maximum operating height can reach 2.5m. It is widely used in industrial inspections, fire-fighting, energy O&M and other ground operations.