iHY, the Low Cost Robot Hand

The iHY Robot Hand is the result of the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manupulation(ARM) program. the aim was developed with the goal of producing a low cost robotic hand with the flexibility to handle different situations.
The hand is equipped with three fingers that are flexible and able to pick up large objects like a basketball to a small object like a pin. It’s able to sustain the weight of a 50 lb kettle bell. It can open doors, pick up a power tool before operating the power tool with it’s finger. It is a very versatible hand at a very low price. It has contributed greatly to the field of robotics in a big way.
The hand is underactuated and called so because there are fewer motors than joints. The spring like material and mechanical linkages connect the rigid parts of the finger. The design of the finger enables it to grab and hold large object but yet also grasp small objects like a pin. Have a look at the video to see it at work. This is not the first underactuated finger in the market but it is the first with it’s versatility and at that price point.

iRobot has done a great job and they did not do it alone. They had the help of Harvard and Yale, hence the name – iHY.

ieee article

Sandia Hand

Sandia, in partnership with Stanford, has created a dexterous robot hand for the DARPA’s ARM program. It’s addresses issues that have plagued previously developed arms, such as cost, durability, dexterity and modularity. It’s amazing how you can just snap on the fingers to form the hand and it has a skin that is able to mimic human tissue allowing for a better grip on objects.

Since the hand is modular and fingers can be attached magnetically according to the use of the robot, it would give us the opportunity to expand the use of the hand by looking at different configurations of the hand. Given the way the fingers are attached, it’s possible for the hand to pick up fingers and attach them as well. This gives the robot the flexibility to easily change the configuration of the hand during operation.

The fingers are costed around $800 per degree of freedom for low-volume productions and hence the 12 degrees of freedom hand would cost around $10,000. Sandia claim this to be cheaper than similar industrial hand with identical degrees of freedom.

Have a look at the video to see how dexterous the hand can be.

Source – IEEE Spectrum

Festo’s New Robotic Hand – Exohand

Festo has been developing beautiful robots of late and it’s still amazing me the way that the develop robots with an understanding of biological systems. It not only gives robots the ability to mimic biological systems but gives us an understanding of how our anatomy works.

The Exohand won second place during the Hermes Award at this year’s Hannover Messe industrial fair. It’s a fair that showcases the latest and most innovative products.

The ExoHand has eight double-acting pneumatic actuators that act as the muscles of the hand, with eight linear potentiometers acting as displacement sensors, and 16 pressure sensors provide feedback about the positions, angles, and forces of fingers. This provides a means for haptic force feedback for the human operator while remotely manipulating the arm.

Festo has developed other systems worth looking at, e.g. the PowerGripper that models after a bird’s beak and a robotic arm that is inspired by the elephant trunk. They also have a flying robot that look at the flight of bird with the Robotino XT, their mobile platform used for education and research. I am sure there will be many more interesting projects in the pipeline.

Source – forbes.com