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Soft Flexible Gripper Design, Characterization and Application

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  • Ocado Technology

Abstract and Figures

This paper presents a design concept of soft flexible gripper dedicated for delicate objects manipulation. Traditional grippers are composed of rigid components and consist of finite number of discrete joints. The more joints they have the better they can adapt for the specific object. However, manipulating with fragile objects still requires precise control and some kind of measurement as well. In this paper the Authors propose soft flexible gripper that is able to adapt for the manipulated object shape without any additional computational effort nor any sensors. The gripper is made only of flexible materials such as rubber and silicone. Since the gripper lacks of any discrete joints and is actuated through smooth deformation of its body, it can take very complex shapes and thus easily adapt to the surface of grasped object. The mechanism is based on soft pneumatic actuators developed by the authors and its configuration can be easily redesigned in order to extend its application for special purposes. In this paper the design and experimental characterization of the gripper prototypes is presented. Possible applications are discussed.
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Soft flexible gripper design, characterization and
application
Fraś J., Maciaś M., Czubaczyński F., Sałek P., and Główka J.
Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements
al.Jerozolimskie 202, 02-486 Warsaw, Poland
jfras, mmacias, fczubaczynski, psalek, jglowka@piap.pl
http://www.piap.pl
Abstract. This paper presents a design concept of soft flexible grip-
per dedicated for delicate objects manipulation. Traditional grippers are
composed of rigid components and consist of finite number of discrete
joints. The more joints they have the better they can adapt for the spe-
cific object. However, manipulating with fragile objects still requires pre-
cise control and some kind of measurement as well. In this paper the
Authors propose soft flexible gripper that is able to adapt for the ma-
nipulated object shape without any additional computational effort nor
any sensors. The gripper is made only of flexible materials such as rubber
and silicone. Since the gripper lacks of any discrete joints and is actuated
through smooth deformation of its body, it can take very complex shapes
and thus easily adapt to the surface of grasped object. The mechanism
is based on soft pneumatic actuators developed by the authors and its
configuration can be easily redesigned in order to extend its application
for special purposes. In this paper the design and experimental charac-
terization of the gripper prototypes is presented. Possible applications
are discussed.
Keywords: robotics, soft manipulator, gripper, grasping, artificial mus-
cle
1 Introduction
One of the most fundamental challenges in robotics is object grasping. Conven-
tional grippers and graspers are expensive and sometimes unsuitable for tasks
where the manipulated object weight, its shape or the environment are uncer-
tain. Moreover, manipulating delicate objects with a traditional rigid gripper
requires sophisticated sensing and high precision that might not always be eas-
ily provided. Rigid grippers designed to handle fragile objects are often complex
or can handle only specified type of items. One of the possible solutions is re-
placement of the gripper by a soft device that can passively adapt to the object
and to the environment. For that reason, soft robotics has been extensively in-
vestigated by scientists, and many different kinds of soft mechanical structures
has been proposed [1][2][3]. Soft robots offer high flexibility, adapt to the exter-
nal conditions and interact more safely with human than any rigid machine. In
2 Fraś J., Maciaś M., Czubaczyński F., Sałek P., and Główka J.
this paper we present a soft flexible gripper that is able to manipulate with frag-
ile objects and adapt to unstructured shapes. In the following sections design,
manufacturing process and the gripper capabilities are presented. Then, possible
applications are discussed. In general two issues are discussed when character-
izing robotic grippers: ability to fixture object (often called grasping), and task
of manipulating object with fingers [4]. In this paper we will focus on grasping
only.
2 Design of the gripper
2.1 Finger construction
A crucial element of the gripper are fingers. The fingers are derived from ar-
tificial muscles technology developed first in late 1950 [5][6], principle of their
operation is, however, significantly different from the initial muscles technology.
An actuator based on the similar principle our fingers are, was first described in
1991 and called flexible micro-actuator [2]. The most important difference be-
tween artificial muscle and the actuator described in this paper is that the force
exerted by actuator and the one generated by muscle have opposite directions.
In our design each finger is a cylinder made of silicone with a pressure actuated
chamber aligned with its central axis, Fig. 1. Two kinds of silicone are used -
EcoFlex 0050 for softer and SmoothSil 950 for stiffer parts. The actuation cham-
ber (c) is made of the softer material and reinforced with tight helix (e) (made
of polyester thread) in order to limit radial expansion of the finger [7]. The inner
fingers’ side (f) is made of the stiffer silicone and formed in a bellow shape (g)
in order to increase grasping capabilities. For the outer side of the finger (a) the
softer silicone is used, so that the pressure application results in bending (j) as
the inner part of the finger elongates less than the outer one. The tip (d) and the
bottom (h) of the finger are sealed with the stiffer silicone. An actuation fluid is
provided via small rubber pipes connected to the actuation chamber at the base
of each finger.
a
b
c
d
i
g
e
f
h j
Fig. 1: Single finger design. a - outer silicone layer, b - actuation chamber wall, c
- actuation chamber, d - finger’s tip, e - reinforcement, f - inner layer, g - bellow
shaped surface, h - finger’s base, i - pressure cable, j - actuated finger. Light and
dark grey colour corresponds with soft and stiff silicone, respectively.
Soft flexible gripper design, characterization and application 3
2.2 Gripper construction
The gripper consists of a number of fingers. In particular, every single finger can
be considered as a gripper as it can coil around the object and grasp it. The
fingers can be arranged symmetrically or asymmetrically, actuated in groups or
working independently each other. Fingers are bound to the gripper body with
the same silicon type that is used for the inner finger side. In this paper we
present few patterns of the fingers arrangements, however, due to simple design
the setup can be very easily rearranged and adapted for a specific application.
Exemplary arrangements are presented in Fig. 2.
(a) (b) (c)
Fig. 2: Example grippers with different fingers arrangements: (a) with axial and
(b) linear symmetry, (c) human hand inspired.
3 Manufacturing
The manufacturing process consists of several steps. The fingers are prepared
first. For each finger special cylindrical chamber rod with removable core is pre-
pared. Next, the rods are tightly braided using a low-diameter polyester thread,
Fig. 3a. Then, the chamber reinforcement prepared in this way is covered with
silicone layer separately - the soft outer part and the inner harder one. After
the silicone cures, the rods are removed by first removing their cores, Fig 3b.
Removing whole rod at once would cause high friction between the rod and the
finger structure and result in finger damage. Next the actuation chamber wall is
created by pouring the soft silicone inside the finger reinforcement and inserting
dedicated rod of smaller diameter than the previous one, Fig. 3c. Last step of
finger manufacturing is sealing its tip with the hard silicone. Once the fingers
are ready, they are bound together in the final mould that forms the gripper
body, Fig. 3d.
4 Fraś J., Maciaś M., Czubaczyński F., Sałek P., and Główka J.
(a) (b) (c) (d)
Fig. 3: Manufacturing steps: (a) chamber reinforcement preparation, (b) rod re-
moval (core goes first), (c) inner chamber wall moulding, (d) final moulding.
4 Characterization
The described gripper has been tested in terms of geometry and generated forces,
partially covering possible characterization [8][9]. The force generated by the sin-
gle finger depending on its length and the overall gripper capabilities were exam-
ined. The bending angle of the finger as a function of pressure was determined
and compared with proposed mathematical model.
4.1 Single finger bending
Mathematical description The pressure applied into the actuation chamber
results in a force acting in a cross-section of the finger. Considering the cross-
section perpendicular to the finger neutral axis, the force is perpendicular to the
cross-section plane. Its value is proportional to the pressure and the chamber
cross-section area. As the Young modulus of the materials used in the finger
construction differs at the cross-section, the bending neutral axis is shifted to-
wards the inner finger part, Fig. 4.
Since the activation camber is aligned with the finger geometrical centre axis,
the pressure applied results in the force that is not aligned with the bending neu-
tral axis. That leads to a bending moment in the cross-section. The cross-section
geometry does not change along the finger and due to the Pascal’s law, force act-
ing in all the cross-sections has the same value. Thus the bending moment along
the finger is constant. The bending moment around neutral axis resulting from
pressure can be expressed as (1). The Pstates for pressure value, dcorresponds
with the distance of the neutral bending axis from cross-section’s geometrical
centre that is a point of internal force acting, Astates for the actuation chamber
cross-section area and equals π(r3)2.
M=P dA (1)
The neutral axis position can be obtained from the assumption that tensions
for pure bending compensates on both sides of that axis. In such case the tension
at the point (x, y)is expressed by (2),
Soft flexible gripper design, characterization and application 5
r1
r3
r2
Bending neutral axis
d
Geometrical center axis
x
y
Fig. 4: Finger cross-section. Light grey and dark grey colours correspond with
soft and stiff silicone, respectively.
σ(x, y) = E(x, y)xd
ρ(2)
where E(x, y)states for the Young’s modulus of the material used at (x, y)
and ρstates for the curvature radius of the neutral plane at the cross-section .
Hence, the neutral axis position dcan be obtained from equilibrium condition
(3) [10].
ZZ
xy
σ(x, y)dxdy = 0 (3)
Since the ρvalue is a constant the equation can be rewritten as (4).
ZZ
xy
E(x, y)(xd)dxdy = 0 (4)
Then the curvature radius ρfor a certain bending moment Mcan be derived
from (5),
ρM=PnEnIn
M(5)
where Enand Instates for Young modulus and moment of inertia in respect
to neutral bending axis of the cross-section nthcomponent, respectively. Once
the position of the neutral bending axis is determined the moments of inertia
can be obtained using parallel axis theorem.
6 Fraś J., Maciaś M., Czubaczyński F., Sałek P., and Główka J.
The pressure applied into the actuation chamber causes not only bending,
but elongation as well. The change of length can be derived from Hooke’s law
(6),
∆l =l0F
PnEnAn
(6)
where l0represents rest finger length, Enand Anstates for the area and
Young modulus of the relevant cross-section component, respectively. Fis stretch-
ing force that equals to pressure value multiplied by an activation chamber cross-
section area. Hence, the overall bending angle can be expressed by the (7).
α=l0+∆l
ρM
(7)
Thus the bending angle for a specific finger length is a quadratic function of
the pressure.
Experiment The finger bending angle as a function of pressure has been mea-
sured. Due to limited data regarding material’s Young modulus and not very
precise manufacturing process (3D printed moulds, manual moulding, etc.) ob-
taining parameter values to compare the results with theoretical model is not
easy. However, the second order polynomial fit presents good approximation of
the gathered data, thus the principle of the model seems to be in force. The
length of an active finger part was 20mm and the pressure range was 0-0.6 bars.
The empirical data is presented in Fig. 5.
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
45 mm
35 mm
25 mm
15 mm
Activation pressure [bar]
Generated force [N]
0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4
0
50
100
150
200
250
Pressure [bar]
Bending angle [deg]
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
180
200
Experimental data
Polyniminal fit
Pressure [bar]
Bending angle [deg]
Fig. 5: Bending as a function of pressure.
4.2 Force generated by a single finger
The finger capabilities in terms of generated force values has been examined. The
finger was mounted horizontally and the force has been measured as a function of
Soft flexible gripper design, characterization and application 7
pressure. The point at which the force has been measured was constant in space.
For the measurement precise scale was used. The weight exceeded the finger
capabilities, thus its position on the scales was stable during the experiment.
The measurement setup and the results of the experiment are presented in Fig.
6
(a)
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
45 mm
35 mm
25 mm
15 mm
Activation pressure [bar]
Generated force [N]
0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
Generated force
Linear fit
Activation pressure [bar]
Force [N]
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4
0
50
100
150
200
250
Pressure [bar]
Bending angle [deg]
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
45 mm
35 mm
25 mm
15 mm
Activation pressure [bar]
Generated force [N]
(b)
Fig. 6: Finger capabilities examination: (a) experimental setup, (b) force gener-
ated by fingers measured for different length fingers.
4.3 Grasping capabilities
Single finger gripper would have very limited application capabilities. In this
section the performance of a grasper composed of five fingers is presented. Two
manipulated objects of different kinds were tested. The force of the grasp was
obtained for each object for various actuation pressures. The experiment was
performed by grasping the object of known weight with the maximal available
pressure and reducing the pressure until the object was dropped. Due to high
variation of the results the experiment was repeated 6 times for each weight
value. The tested use case is presented in Fig 8a. The performance for irregular
soft object and for spherical rigid one is presented in Fig. 8b
5 Usage scenario discussion
There are many potential applications of flexible graspers in various scenarios.
One of the examples is dealing with soft, flexible or delicate materials, in indus-
tries like apparel or shoe manufacturing [11]. Soft robots can enable us to make
exoskeletons or wearable protetics, and provide more unobtrusive way to inter-
face with human body [12]. Another intensively investigated application in recent
years is friut picking that require caution due to objects fragility [13][14]. Higly
demanding potential usage scenario is forensic evidences collection [15]. Since
8 Fraś J., Maciaś M., Czubaczyński F., Sałek P., and Główka J.
(a)
(b)
Fig. 7: Grasper capabilities examination: (a) experimental setup, (b) grasping
force comparison.
the evidences may be fragile and of irregular or unexpected shapes they may
be difficult to grasp using conventional gripper. Experience of PIAP’s experts
gained from working in this field in cooperation with crime scene investigators
concludes that such a soft grippers may be very useful for remote physical crime
evidence gathering. One of the PIAP’s robots equipped with the soft gripper
is presented in Fig. 8. Generally handling fragile objects (fruits, human body,
forensic evidences), in very different situations and usages can become domain
dominated by soft robots [16], especially soft grippers such as the one described
in this paper.
In the Fig. 9 few example handled objects are presented.
(a) (b)
Fig. 8: Mobile security robot equipped with the soft gripper: (a) the robot, (b)
the device designed to actuate the soft gripper and to be carried by robot.
Soft flexible gripper design, characterization and application 9
Fig. 9: Examples of grasped objects.
6 Summary
Traditional grippers are very widely utilized devices. However in some cases,
the usage of rigid tools is problematic due to their stiffness. Soft and flexible
graspers and grippers demonstrate great potential in such cases. Their adapta-
tion capabilities and soft contact make them safe and adequate for fragile object
manipulation. Due to their safety properties, soft grippers and grasper are ex-
tensively considered as a substitution for rigid devices in the human-present
environments. Moreover, the passive adapting skills make it possible to use soft
devices in uncertain environments and for unstructured object manipulation
without any additional control effort. In many cases there is no need to use any
sensing to realise a task, since the gripper flexibility successfully compensates all
the object irregularities.
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... TPU is used to make the gripper's fingers (Thermoplastic Poly Urethane). Jan Fras et al., [8] proposed the major function to movements of the fingers is offered by a Gripper that has been tested in terms of shape and generated forces. This gripper is controlled by pressure and the gripper is constructed of silicone material, actuation fluid, and actuator. ...
... Flexible Fingers: The flexible fingers have a unique property that allows it to take the object's shape and due to it being made of a material that has a high friction, it can easily hold and grab things without it slipping. The gripper uses pressure to open and close the fingers [18][19][20][21]. ...
... The external gripping mode is used the most when holding objects. When the gripper closes, the force applied from the gripper holds the object [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]25]. ...
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The recent advances in material science and engineering disciplines have had a significant impact on the robotics field where numerous bioinspired soft robots have been developed. Roboticists can now develop and fabricate soft robotic systems made of materials with low elasticity using additive manufacturing technologies. One of the most studied classes of soft robotic systems is soft adaptive grippers. In this work, we present a novel fully 3D printed soft pneumatic gripper that incorporates a novel design of soft pneumatic chambers and a bioinspired fin-ray structure for conformal grasping. The soft gripper was printed in a single step using a low-cost and open-source fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer and a commercially available thermoplastic poly(urethane) (TPU). A soft pneumatic actuator representing each finger of the gripper was optimized using finite element modeling (FEM). The FEM simulations predicted accurately the performance of the actuator in terms of deformation and blocked force. The high conformability of the proposed soft gripper was validated experimentally. The soft gripper was demonstrated lifting a heavy load and grasping a wide variety of objects with different weights, shapes, textures and stiffnesses.
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This work reports on a soft gripper with three-dimensional (3D) printed soft monolithic fingers that seamlessly incorporate pneumatic touch sensing chambers (pTSCs) for real-time pressure/force control to grasp objects with varying stiffness (i.e., soft, compliant, and rigid objects). The fingers of the soft gripper were 3D printed simultaneously along with the pTSC, without requiring support materials, using an inexpensive fused deposition modeling 3D printer. The pTSCs embedded in the fingers have numerous advantages, including fast response, repeatability, reliability, negligible hysteresis, stability over time, durability, and very low power consumption. Finite element modeling is used to predict the behavior of the pTSCs under different body contacts and to design their topology. Real-time pressure/force control was performed experimentally based on the feedback data provided by the pTSCs to grasp various objects with different weights, shapes, sizes, textures, and stiffnesses using an experimentally tuned proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller with the same gains for all the objects grasped. In other words, the gripper can self-adapt to different environments with different stiffnesses and provide stable contact and grasping. These results are validated theoretically by modeling the soft gripper in contact with the objects with varying stiffness to show that the stability of the contact motion is not affected by the stiffness of the environment (i.e., the grasped object) when constant PID control gains are used.
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Advances in material science in recent years have had such a tremendous impact on the field of soft robotics that has fostered the development of many bio-inspired devices. One such device, which has been subject to extensive study in recent times, is soft pneumatic-network (pneu-net) actuators (SPAs). In this study, we present a new SPA structure whose chamber configuration mimics the fish bone (herringbone) structure to facilitate simultaneous bending deformations in both longitudinal and transverse directions. Such as cannot be obtained from the regular pneu-net structure – which bends only lengthwise, the coupled bending curvatures allow for gripping with maximized contact area, a property which facilitates firmness, security, and stability in gripping. Using the corresponding chamber inclination angle of the configuration as key parameter, the combined transverse and longitudinal deformation feature is studied through finite element simulation as well as experiments. Also, the functional behavior of the actuator/gripper prototypes is experimentally investigated using a series of approaches including blocked (or tip) force test, grip strength test, and stability (or sustained grasping force) test. Furthermore, the viability of the said conformal gripping characteristic is demonstrated by subjecting the structure to a couple of gripping tests. This utility-enhancing design approach could really guide into the development of more sophisticated application-custom soft robotic capabilities.
Conference Paper
In this work, a 3D printed modular soft gripper with highly conformal soft fingers was developed. A soft auxetic structure with compliant ribs is 3D printed simultaneously with each soft pneumatic finger for conformal grasping. The fingers of the soft gripper were printed monolithically, without requiring support material and postprocessing, using a low-cost and open-source fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer that employs a commercially available thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The soft fingers of the gripper were optimized using finite element modeling (FEM). The FE simulations accurately predicted the performance of the fingers in terms of deformation and blocked force. Also, FEM was used to predict the behavior of the auxetic structure and its compliant ribs to prove that it highly decreases the contact pressure by increasing the contact area between the soft fingers and the grasped objects. The contact pressure can be decreased by up to 8 times with the implementation of the auxetic structure. Also, the configuration of the highly conformal gripper can be easily modulated by changing the number of fingers attached to its base to tailor it for specific manipulation tasks. A wide variety of objects with different weights, shapes, sizes, textures and stiffnesses can be grasped using the soft modular gripper.
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A variety of grippers or end effectors are used in industrial robotic manipulators to accommodate the needs of handling different types of objects prevalent in a given automation scenario. With numerous available mechanisms: magnetic, suction, mechanical, shape-memory and some more, there is a range of options to choose from. In this paper, development and construction of a flexible universal gripper which can handle a variety of objects without need of changing gripper is presented. The gripper is designed to pick up arbitrarily shaped solids, nonporous items of weight up to 800 gm with a minimum plane area of 18x18 sq.mm on a surface. The design of gripper parts, that is, suction cup and corrugated flexible fingers is explained with the help of analytical as well as finite element analysis. A new analytical model for design of corrugated flexible fingers is developed. The results of a preliminary test carried out to check lifting capacity of gripper are presented. The proposed gripper strengthens the positives and works around the weaknesses of existing types, boasting of safe design, easy manufacturing, low cost, lightweight assembly, effective gripping and stable holding of items.
Technical Report
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In order for robots to expand their applicability within manufacturing operations, their dexterity needs to advance considerably. There is active research in many areas that is contributing to creating a new generation of much more dexterous arms and hands. A complementary measurement science research effort, which defines the metrics, artifacts, and test methods, is needed to characterize and understand performance of new capabilities. In this document, a high-level roadmap is proposed for potential long- and short-term work to progress measurement science in the area of dexterous manipulation.
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MRI compatibility, which often is a requirement for the new medical soft robot projects, greatly reduces available actuation methods and sensors. An example of such project is STIFF-FLOP, which aims to develop a soft silicone manipulator actuated by pressure. The current arm construction and method of actuation cause several undesirable effects, which pose problems for actuation and sensing. In this paper, the authors identify the source of those negative effects and propose improvements over the current construction to eliminate or limit their influence. The new construction concept is tested and compared with the current one. Possible ideas for further development are also proposed.
Conference Paper
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The development of robotic devices able to perform manipulation tasks mimicking the human hand has been assessed on large scale. This work stands in the challenging scenario where soft materials are combined with bio-inspired design in order to develop soft grippers with improved grasping and holding capabilities. We are going to show a low-cost, under-actuated and adaptable soft gripper, highlighting the design and the manufacturing process. In particular, a critical analysis is made among three versions of the gripper with same design and actuation mechanism, but based on different materials. A novel actuation principle has been implemented in both cases, in order to reduce the encumbrance of the entire system and improve its aesthetics. Grasping and holding capabilities have been tested for each device, with target objects varying in shape, size and material. Results highlight synergy between the geometry and the intrinsic properties of the soft material, showing the way to novel design principles for soft grippers.
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In studying grasping and manipulation we find two very different approaches to the subject: knowledge-based approaches based primarily on empirical studies of human grasping and manipulation, and analytical approaches based primarily on physical models of the manipulation process. This chapter begins with a review of studies of human grasping, in particular our development of a grasp taxonomy and an expert system for predicting human grasp choice. These studies show how object geometry and task requirements (as well as hand capabilities and tactile sensing) combine to dictate grasp choice. We then consider analytic models of grasping and manipulation with robotic hands. To keep the mathematics tractable, these models require numerous simplifications which restrict their generality. Despite their differences, the two approaches can be correlated. This provides insight into why people grasp and manipulate objects as they do, and suggests different approaches for robotic grasp and manipulation planning. The results also bear upon such issues such as object representation and hand design.
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Conference Paper
This paper presents a gripper with fingertips constructed from incompressible fluid covered by rubber with the aim of grasping very fragile objects. Owing to the incompressibility, simply closing the gripper allows the fingertips to approach the target object with low stiffness; after contact, the contact stiffness increases with increasing fingertip deformation, and grasping with high stiffness can be realized. The adaptation of the fingertips to the object shape and a uniform contact pressure are further benefits of the proposed system. Fragile and brittle objects can be grasped by controlling the contact pressure so that it does not exceed the fracture stress/pressure. We found that the initial sign of fracture appears before total fracture when soft and ductile objects are grasped. Based on this phenomenon, we developed a strategy for grasping ductile objects without any advance knowledge of fracture. The proposed fingertips have a rigid layer inside the fluid to grasp objects with normal rigidity. The effectiveness of the fingertips was confirmed experimentally.
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Advances in robotics aim to extend physician capabilities.
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Biorobotic research seeks to develop new robotic technologies modeled after the performance of human and animal neuromuscular systems. The development of one component of a biorobotic system, an artificial muscle and tendon, is reported here. The device is based on known static and dynamic properties of biological muscle and tendon that were extracted from the literature and used to mathematically describe their force, length, and velocity relationships. A flexible pneumatic actuator is proposed as the contractile element of the artificial muscle and experimental results are presented that show the force-length properties of the actuator are muscle-like, but the force-velocity properties are not. The addition of a hydraulic damper is put forward to improve the actuator's velocity-dependent properties. Further, an artificial tendon is set forth whose function is to serve as connective tissue between the artificial muscle and a skeletal structure. A complete model of the artificial muscle-tendon system is then presented which predicts the expected force-length-velocity performance of the artificial system. Experimental results of the constructed device indicate muscle-like performance in general: higher activation pressures yielded higher output forces, faster concentric contractions resulted in lower force outputs, faster eccentric contractions produced higher force outputs, and output forces were higher at longer muscle lengths than shorter lengths.
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In order to eliminate twisting deformation of the flexible pneumatic finger, the mechanical structure of the pneumatic finger is improved and a rigid chain component is designed for it. The flexible finger automatically adapts well to the irregular shape of grasping object. The change of the pressure value of the compressed air in the flexible finger and the output force of the finger when grasping objects are analyzed when the finger grasping object, and the mathematic models are built up. Due to multi-contract between the object and the pneumatic finger, the flexible finger can be used to steadily hold object, and the force acting on the object will be not concentrated on several touch points, which is contributed to protect them from mechanical damage. The flexible finger can be used in fruit picking. It is feasible to grasp object steadily by pneumatic flexible finger when we only know the basic shape of an object without details.