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Biomechatronic Design and Control of an Anthropomorphic Artificial Hand for Prosthetic and Robotic Applications

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5 Author(s)

This paper proposes a biomechatronic approach to the design of an anthropomorphic artificial hand able to mimic the natural motion of the human fingers. The hand is conceived to be applied to prosthetics as well as to humanoid and personal robotics; hence, anthropomorphism is a fundamental requirement to be addressed both in the physical aspect and in the functional behavior. In this paper, a biomechatronic approach is addressed to harmonize the mechanical design of the anthropomorphic artificial hand with the design of the hand control system. More in detail, this paper focuses on the control system of the hand and on the optimization of the hand design in order to obtain a human-like kinematics and dynamics. By evaluating the simulated hand performance, the mechanical design is iteratively refined. The mechanical structure and the ratio between number of actuators and number of degrees of freedom (DOFs) have been optimized in order to cope with the strict size and weight constraints that are typical of application of artificial hands to prosthetics and humanoid robotics. The proposed hand has a kinematic structure similar to the natural hand featuring three articulated fingers (thumb, index, and middle finger with 3 DOF for each finger and 1 DOF for the abduction/adduction of the thumb) driven by four dc motors. A special underactuated transmission has been designed that allows keeping the number of motors as low as possible while achieving a self-adaptive grasp, as a result of the passive compliance of the distal DOF of the fingers. A proper hand control scheme has been designed and implemented for the study and optimization of hand motor performance in order to achieve a human-like motor behavior. To this aim, available data on motion of the human fingers are collected from the neuroscience literature in order to derive a reference input for the control. Simulation trials and computer-aided design (CAD) mechanical tools are used to obtain a finger model includin- g its dynamics. Also the closed-loop control system is simulated in order to study the effect of iterative mechanical redesign and to define the final set of mechanical parameters for the hand optimization. Results of the experimental tests carried out for validating the model of the robotic finger, and details on the process of integrated refinement and optimization of the mechanical structure and of the hand motor control scheme are extensively reported in the paper.

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Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 4 )