Robotic Gripper Driven by Flexible Microactuator

The faculty and students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham never give up.

Their endless thirst to further social causes through scientific research cannot be stopped.

Yet another Amrita research team was recently honored for their contributions at the IEEE Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts (ARSO), held October 26-28 in Seoul, Korea.

Dr. Ganesh UdupaThird-year B.Tech. student, Aditya K., presented a paper titled Robotic Gripper Driven by Flexible Microactuator Based on an Innovative Technique at this conference. Aditya had co-authored the paper with his faculty, Dr. Ganesh Udupa and Pramod Sreedharan.
The paper presented the outcome of experiments conducted to make a simple and easy-to-manufacture dexterous hand.

Dr. Udupa described the current level of gripper technology.

“The grippers presently in use are vice-like devices which can be programmed to hold and position objects at the final location in the right orientation.”

Explaining the characteristics of a technically advanced gripper, he stated, “An adaptable gripper with flexibility, dexterousness and load capacity analogous to the human hand is ideal for robotics application.”

Robotic Gripper

The team worked for the past six months to meet that ideal. A user-friendly and cost-effective device was designed; Elgi Electric and Industries Ltd. in Coimbatore will manufacture the prototype.
Describing who the benefactors will be and how they will benefit from the device, Dr. Udupa commented, “Its biggest market will be in the medical field. The humanoid multi-fingered gripper can be fitted in place of a surgically removed hand. Those who have lost their hands in accidents or during wars will benefit. By attaching an arm to a chair or cot, the artificial hand can also be used like an attendant who feeds a patient.”

Paper PresentationExplaining that the team’s work is still in its early stages, he added, “We have only completed ten percent of our research. There is still a lot more to achieve. Extensive research is under way for the design of a soft gripper or a dexterous hand. We are planning to apply for a patent.”
In the future, the team plans to use this technology to design a multi-digit foot.

The student Aditya K. was honoured with an additional achievement. Impressed with his work, the Korean Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul, regarded as one of the best research institutes in Korea, offered him a paid summer internship.


Ganesh Udupa, Pramod Sreedharan and Aditya K, Robotic Gripper Driven by Flexible Microactuator Based on an Innovative Technique.

Abstract: In the area of Robotics, the gripper plays a very important role as it is required to hold and place the object at the desired location. The requirements of gripper in terms of load capacity, and flexibility to adapt to the form of the object with tactile sensing capability which suit the strength of the object are necessary. Extensive research work is under way in the design of soft gripper or dexterous hand. An exhaustive survey of all such grippers conveys the idea of higher and higher sophistication with innumerable components and elaborate controls with programmable ability has been the outcome of research. Flexible micro actuators (FMA) proposed by earlier researchers are having two or more internal chambers and the internal pressure of each are controlled independently through flexible tubes which are connected to pressure control valves. The proposed actuator has a single internal chamber and is simple, compact and easy to manufacture. In this paper, a flexible micro actuator (FMA) driven by a pneumatic/hydraulic system with single internal chamber has been developed for robotic soft gripper. By proper selection and manufacturing of the asymmetric tube flexible actuator with reinforcement, a versatile dexterous hand can be fabricated which is suited for dynamic application closely approximating to the human hand. 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 such as micro robots, pipeline inspection robots, underwater robots and walking robots.

November 9, 2010

School of Engineering, Amritapuri

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