Festo ExoHand Fine Motor Skill Robotic Hand

Festo recently introduced their ExoHand device that comes in two forms; a true robotic hand and a wearable exoskeleton glove.


(Festo exohand video)

The motion of a human hand, which consists of 27 bones, is possible because of numerous muscles within the hand and forearm controlled by three different nerves, each of which has components for motor skills and sensory feedback. So mimicking the range of motion capable in a hand requires complementary components in a robotic version. The ExoHand contains eight double-acting pneumatic actuators (the black cylinders in the images) that act as the muscles of the hand, allowing for fingers to pivot and the thumb to rotate toward the palm. In each hand, eight linear potentiometers act as displacement sensors, and 16 pressure sensors provide feedback about the positions, angles, and forces of fingers. The system allows for two-way force feedback, so that a worker remotely manipulating the arm senses what the robot hand “feels”.

Heinlein fans are thinking of the powered suit from his 1959 novel Starship Troopers or the earlier seminal idea from Heinlein's 1942 story Waldo:

Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him; all three pairs, including the secondary pair before the machine, came to life. Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.
(Read more about Heinlein's Waldo)

Festo has done some very imaginative work in robotics:

See the Festo ExoHand via Singularity Hub.

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