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Improved robotic hand captures mechanical engineering top award
Date:9/28/2009

The first version of RAPHaEL relied on solenoids with a microcontroller to operate. The material that comprises the hand also were changed to a durable polycarbonate material, replacing a fragile acrylic-based material that was prone to breakage, said Cothern.

"This gives us a lot more control over the kinds of things we can do with the hand," said Cothern. "Eventually, we might be able to tell how soft an object you're grabbing is just by touching it."

Additional tweaks to come: The ability to grasp small moving objects as well as the use of silicone, carbon fiber and other materials to make the hand lighter, simpler in structure, and also appear more human. As a possible prosthetic, the hand is easy to operate and its fingers are easy to replace if broken, Cothern said.

RAPHaEL 2 is part of a larger RoMeLa project: The humanoid robot CHARLI (Cognitive Humanoid Robot with Learning Intelligence). Once the hand is connected to the larger body, it will be able to pick up not just grasp and hold objects as would a person, said Hong. CHARLI is expected one day to walk about campus giving tours of Virginia Tech to visitors and potential students.


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Contact: Steven Mackay
smackay@vt.edu
540-231-4787
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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