TitleOn Motion and Force Controllability of Precision Grasps with Hands Actuated by Soft Synergies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPrattichizzo, D, Malvezzi, M, Gabiccini, M, Bicchi, A
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Pagination1440 - 1456
Date Published12/2013
KeywordsHaptics, Robotics

To adapt to many different objects and tasks, hands are very complex systems with many degrees of freedom (DoFs), sensors, and actuators. In robotics, such complexity comes at the cost of size and weight of the hardware of devices, but it strongly affects also the ease of their programming. A possible approach to simplification consists in coupling some of the DOFs, thus affording a reduction of the number of effective inputs, and eventually leading to more efficient, simpler, and reliable designs. Such coupling can be at the software level, to achieve faster, more intuitive programmability or at the hardware level, through either rigid or compliant physical couplings between joints. Physical coupling between actuators and simplification of control through the reduction of independent inputs is also an often-reported interpretation of human hand movement data, where studies have demonstrated that few “postural synergies” explain most of the variance in hand configurations used to grasp different objects. Together with beneficial simplifications, the reduction of the number of independent inputs to a few coupled motions or “synergies” has also an impact on the ability of the hand to dexterously control grasp forces and in-hand manipulation. This paper aims to develop tools that establish how many synergies should be involved in a grasp to guarantee stability and efficiency, depending on the task and on the hand embodiment. Through the analysis of a quasi-static model, grasp structural properties related to contact force and object motion controllability are defined. Different compliant sources are considered, for a generalization of the discussion. In particular, a compliant model for synergies assumed, referred to as “soft synergies,” is discussed. The controllable internal forces and motions of the grasped object are related to the actuated inputs. This paper investigates to what extent a hand with many joints can ex- loit postural synergies to control force and motion of the grasped object.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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