The paper titled, "A Novel Underactuated Multi-fingered Soft Robotic Hand for Prosthetic Application", authored by Dr. Ganesha Udupa, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amritapuri; and Pramod Sreedharan, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amrita School of Engineering, Amritapuri, was published in the Elsevier’s Journal, Robotics and Autonomous Systems (impact factor:1.950), affiliated with the Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS) Society.
The hand is a novel under-actuated multi-jointed, multi-fingered, soft robotic hand for prosthetic application which is made using asymmetric rubber actuators. This world class research work on asymmetric flexible actuators is first of its kind in the fabrication of a prosthetic hand and gives bending performance better than the symmetric actuators. The fingers are made with 2 degree of freedom (DOF), whereas the general soft hand has 1 DOF in one finger. Lab tests of the hand showed better potential compared to other prosthetic hands available, in terms of simple structure, weight, ease of manufacture and good flexibility. It is also possible to open and close the hand with a speed 5 to 8 times faster than conventional prostheses available in the market. By replacing the rubber actuators with flexible metal actuators, the hand can be made to lift more weight than conventional prosthetic hands. The technology has the potential for a wider application in addition to being used for prosthetic limbs.
Robotics and Autonomous Systems journal carries articles describing fundamental developments in the field of robotics, with special emphasis on autonomous systems. An important goal of this journal is to extend the state of the art, in both symbolic and sensory based robot control, and learning in the context of autonomous systems. "With the inspiration and constant guidance of our Chancellor Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) we started to do research on a light weight and low cost prosthetic hand, as Amma intended it to be used for the poor section of society who cannot afford costly prosthetic hands. There are about 10,00,000 amputees worldwide. The main factors for a loss of upper or lower limbs are accidents, besides diseases and injuries. For diseases and tumors, amputation is a way of stopping the spread of the disease to the rest of the body," said Dr. Ganesha Udupa.
"About 50 per cent handicaps do not use their prosthetics regularly, due to its heavy weight and low functionality. Cost is another deterring factor in case of most advanced robotic hands,” said Mr. Pramod Sreedharan.
Abstract: Robotic hand plays a very important role as it is required to hold and place the object at the desired location. There has been a lot of research on the flexible pneumatic rubber or polymer based actuators for soft gripper applications. This paper is investigating asymmetric bellow flexible pneumatic actuator (ABFPA) as a bending joint made of suitable rubber material in the construction of a novel underactuated multi-jointed, multi-fingered soft robotic hand for prosthetic application. The proposed asymmetric actuator has a single internal chamber and is simple, compact and easy to manufacture. Several actuator designs are analyzed and validated experimentally. It is found that the effect of shape and eccentricity of the ABFPA plays an important role in the bending of the actuator. By proper selection of materials and manufacturing of the ABFPA with reinforcement, a versatile dexterous hand can be fabricated. The present work has paved the way for extensive research on this innovative technique as it holds out the true potential for innumerable and very interesting application in various areas.