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A breakthrough in robotics? A hand design with more resilience coupled with strength

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One of the most common used design uses pin as joints, which then offers high strength in terms of lifting power, but offers very little resistance to damage from collisions especially if it comes from the side. The other design uses moulded silicone as replacement for joints, causing it to be more flexible, harder to damage or break, ever better at grabbing objects, but the downside is the lifting power being compromised.

DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology) research team focused on the idea of a partially-compliant robotic hand, which mixes the two pre-existing designs known for a robotic hand.

It uses a rigid link connecting the structure, also known as Cross Flexural Hinge (CFH), which can boost the robot’s lifting power while minimizing potential damage from collision. CFH is generally made up of two metal strips arranged to form an X-shape that can bend or flex in one position while maintaining rigidity without friction.

The researchers have shown a demonstration for the performance of the CFH-joint robot hand, which highlights the hands grasping ability being able to grab various types of objects such as a box of tissue, a wallet and even a small fan. Within this demo, the CFH-jointed hand was found to have 46.7% better shock absorption compared to the pin-joint robotic hand design. It also possesses better strength than the fully compliant robotic hand design, since it has the ability to lift and hold objects for up to 4 kilograms.

Though the robotic hand is very promising, further research and improvement are needed before these partially-compliant hands are able to be implemented to work alongside humans.

The researchers themselves noted that further analysis for materials are needed, along with field experiments to identify the best practical use of this hand design. They also wanted to focus on the improvement of the robotic hands’ controls, dynamics and precision for industrial and healthcare settings since these are highly demanding fields.

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