This paper presents a novel tendon-driven bio-inspired robotic hand design for in-hand manipulation. Many dexterous robot hands are able to produce adaptive grasping, but only a few human-sized hands worldwide are able to produce fine motions of the object in the hand. One of the challenges for the near future is to develop human-sized robot hands with human dexterity. Most of the existing hands considered in the literature suffer from dry friction which creates unwanted backlash and non-linearities. These problems limit the accurate control of the fingers and the capabilities of the hand. Such was the case with our first fully actuated dexterous robot hand: the Laboratoire de Mécanique des Solides (LMS) hand.
The mechanical design of the hand relies on a tendon-based transmission system. Developing a fully actuated dexterous robot hand requires the routing of the tendons through the finger for the actuation of each joint. This paper focuses on the evolution of the tendon routing; from the LMS hand to the new RoBioSS dexterous hand. The motion transmission in the new design creates purely linear coupling relations between joints and actuators. Experimental results using the same protocol for the previous hand and the new hand illustrate the evolution in the quality of the mechanical design. With the improvements of the mechanical behavior of the robotic fingers, the hand control software could be extensively simplified. The choice of a common architecture for all fingers makes it possible to consider the hand as a collaboration of four serial robots. Moreover, with the transparency of the motor-joint transmissions, we could use robust, industrial-grade cascaded feedback loops for the axis controls.
An inside-hand manipulation task concerning the manipulation of a bottle cap is presented at the end of the paper. As proof of the robustness of the hand, demonstrations of the hand's capabilities were carried out continuously over three days at SPS IPC Drives international exhibition in Nuremberg, in November 2016.