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Joint compliance can enable successful robot grasping despite uncertainties in target object location. Compliance also enhances manipulator robustness by minimizing contact forces in the event of unintended contacts or impacts. In this paper, we describe the design, fabrication, and evaluation of a novel compliant robotic grasper constructed using polymer-based shape deposition manufacturing. Joints are formed by elastomeric flexures, and actuator and sensor components are embedded in tough rigid polymers. The result is a robot gripper with the functionality of conventional metal prototypes for grasping in unstructured environments but with robustness properties that allow for large forces due to inadvertent contact.
Date of Publication: April 2006