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Cockroach Inspires Robotic Hand to Get a Grip

robotic hand

Robert D. Howe's goal was to invent a mechanical hand that automatically compensates for errors and adapts to grasp a variety of shapes.

Credit: William Sacco / Yale University

Harvard University researcher Robert D. Howe and Yale University professor Aaron Dollar have developed a robotic hand, based on the legs of a cockroach, that is better than previous models at gripping a variety of objects. The researchers drew inspiration from University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Full, who developed an eight-legged robot that could run on uneven ground very quickly using a series of springs and hinges, similar to the way a cockroach moves.

Dollar and Howe started their hand as just a claw consisting of two double-jointed plastic fingers, with a motor using cables and pulleys to control them. Dollar developed an algorithm to simulate how the hand would adjust to different shaped objects with various angles in the joints. At rest, the joints range from 25 to 45 degrees, with the joints closest to the palm being the most flexible.

The researchers say their model could become the basis for a new range of household and service robots that need to be able to pick up a wide variety of objects.

From Inside Science
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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