Adaptive, Anthropomorphic Robot Hands for Grasping and In-Hand Manipulation

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Virginia Tech

This thesis presents the design, modeling, and development of adaptive robot hands that are capable of performing dexterous, in-hand manipulation. The robot hand comprises of anthropomorphic robotic fingers, which employ an adaptive actuation mechanism. The mechanism achieves both flexion/extension and adduction/abduction, on the finger's metacarpophalangeal joint, by using two actuators. Moment arm pulleys are employed to drive the tendon laterally, such that an amplification on the abduction motion occurs, while also maintaining the flexion motion. Particular emphasis has been given to the modeling and the analysis of the actuation mechanism. Also, a model for spatial motion is provided that relates the actuation modes with the finger motion and the tendon force with the finger characteristics. For the hand design, the use of differential mechanisms simplifies the actuation scheme, as we utilize only two actuators for four fingers, achieving affordable dexterity. A design optimization framework assess the results of hand anthropometry studies to derive key parameters for the bio-inspired actuation design.

The model assumptions are evaluated with the finite element method. The proposed finger has been fabricated with the Hybrid Deposition Manufacturing technique and the actuation mechanism's efficiency has been validated with experiments that include the computation of the finger workspace, the assessment of the force exertion capabilities, the demonstration of the feasible motions, and the grasping and manipulation capabilities. Also, the hand design is fabricated with off-the-shelf materials and rapid prototyping techniques while its efficiency has been validated using an extensive set of experimental paradigms that involved the execution of grasping and in-hand manipulation tasks with everyday objects.

Underactuation, Tendon-Driven Mechanisms, Monolithic Fingers, Anthropomorphic Robot Hands, Grasping, In-Hand Manipulation