A Novel Design of Soft Robotic Hand with a Human-inspired Soft Palm for Dexterous Grasping

Paper accepted to IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM)

Abstract: Soft robotic hands and grippers are increasingly attracting attention as robotic end-effector. Compared with rigid counterparts, they are safer for human-robot and environment-robot interactions, easier to control, lower cost and weight, and more compliant. Current soft robotic hands have mostly focused on the soft fingers and bending actuators. However, the palm is also an essential part of grasping. In this work, we propose a novel design of a soft humanoid hand with pneumatic soft fingers and soft palm. The hand is inexpensive to fabricate. The configuration of the soft palm is based on a modular design that can be easily applied to actuating all kinds of soft fingers before. The splaying of the fingers, bending of the whole palm, abduction, and adduction of the thumb are implemented by the soft palm. Moreover, we present a new design of soft finger, called hybrid bending soft finger (HBSF). It can both bend in the grasping axis and deflect in the side-to-side axis as a human-like motion. The functions of the HBSF and soft palm were simulated by the SOFA framework. And their performance was tested in experiments. The 6 fingers with 1 to 11 segments were tested and analyzed. The versatility of the soft hand is evaluated and testified by the grasping experiments in the real scenarios according to Feix taxonomy. And the results present the diversity of grasps and show promise for grasping a variety of objects with different shapes and weights.

Link to pre-print (Arxiv): https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.00979