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

Authors: Haihang Wang, Fares J. Abu-Dakka, Tran Nguyen Le, Ville Kyrki and He Xu

IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM), 2021

Abstract: Soft robotic hands and grippers are increasingly attracting attention as robotic end effectors. Compared with their rigid counterparts, they are safer for human-robot and environment-robot interactions, easier to control, and more compliant, and they cost and weigh less. Design studies of soft robotic hands have focused mostly on the soft fingers and bending actuators. However, the palm is also an essential part in grasping. In this work, we propose a novel design for an inexpensive soft humanoid hand with pneumatic soft fingers and a soft palm. The configuration of the soft palm is based on a modular design that can be applied to actuate different kinds of existing soft fingers. The splaying of the fingers, bending of the whole palm, and abduction and adduction of the thumb are implemented by the palm. Moreover, we present a new design of soft finger, called the hybrid-bending soft finger (HBSF), that can both bend in the grasping axis and deflect in the side-to-side axis, achieving human-like motion (Figure 1). The functions of the HBSF and soft palm are evaluated both in simulation, using the Simulation Open Framework Architecture (SOFA) framework, and experimentally. Six finger designs with 1-11 longitudinal segments are analyzed. The versatility of the soft hand is evaluated and demonstrated experimentally by its grasping of objects according to Feix’s taxonomy. The results demonstrate a great diversity of grasps, with 31 of the 33 grasp types of the taxonomy performed successfully with the proposed design, showing promise for grasping a large variety of objects with different shapes and weights.

Link to pre-print (Open-access): https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9395694

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjEqxu-2nq4&ab_channel=FaresAbuDakka

CAD Source Files: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1JMKUOzZODMuUIelnDF_-HTU86Rf8-SNv?usp=sharing