News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

November 19, 2012 — Vol. 28 No. 41

Mechanical Engineering Professor Awarded Grant for Robotic Hand Research

Alba Perez Gracia

Idaho State University mechanical engineering Associate Professor Alba Perez Gracia has been awarded a four-year $445,570 grant through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Robotics Initiative (NRI) for the design of robotic hands.

The project title is "A Design Methodology for Multi-Fingered Robotic Hands with Second-order Kinematic Constraints." Collaborators include the University of California, Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.

The goal of the research project is to develop a systematic methodology for the design of multi-fingered robotic hands and grasping devices for a desired mechanical motion.

"The task is to be defined as positions and higher motion derivatives of the fingers, with accelerations related to the contact geometry at the fingertips for grasping actions," Perez Gracia said.

The research team aims to develop multi-fingered grasping devices for human-robotic tasks, however the method will be a general tool for the design of any kind of multiple-finger grasping device.

"Currently no systematic method exists for the kinematic synthesis of multi-fingered robotic hands, or for incorporating higher-derivative constraints for grasping, re-grasping and in-hand manipulation into the design process," Perez Gracia added.

The final product is to be implemented in open-source software packages with an application-programming interface. Several designs for human-hand tasks will be developed.

It is expected that the design tool will open the door for a great variety of designs for multi-fingered grippers. This design tool will increase the ability of industry to design high performance, cost-effective multi-fingered robotic hands.

The project will attract graduate students in the area of robotics and will enhance the actual equipment of the ISU Robotics Laboratory with new robotic hands and the state-of-the-art equipment for motion capture.