Thursday, April 16, 2015

Technology Berlin Researchers develop ‘soft’ robot hand – Germany radio

By Peter Kaiser

There is not much that is more unique than the human hand. As she reaches and touches things – whether gently or hard, fast or slow. What emerged in the course of evolution, is hard to copy. But that is precisely the aim of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information at the University of Berlin.

“I have a pneumatic soft robot hand that is operated by air pressure, and if I purely let more air attacks on the hand. If I indulgence air, it opens again here.”

Arne Siverling, a research associate at the Berlin Technical University, placed on a shelf, a stuffed animal, a box and a bottle of each in different compartments and handle heights. The robot hand made of silicone that looks like one of a blue garbage bag wrapped human hand opens. “

” And because the hand is soft and inflatable, it adapts to the object. And then I can so grab that bottle. “

” The robot hand is an intermediate result of the SOMA project, which is funded by the EU with about 1.7 million euros. SOMA is soft manipulation, ie those soulful human interactions where we express door handles, grab a pencil, insert the wrench in keyholes and turn and so on. The aim of the researchers in Berlin and its European partners is a copy of this human ability. But there is still much to be done, says SOMA coordinator Oliver Bock. He runs at the TU Berlin the laboratory for robotics and biology.

“The great difficulty is the perception. The perception is so that one in the old paradigm, ie where it hard, rigid robot hands are made of metal, must acquire a very accurate model of the environment to determine exactly where have my hard hands now take on this object so that I can successfully access. That will change when you make soft hands, because the soft hands are can adjust both the environment and the object. “

In the laboratory, Arne Sieverling demonstrates the difficulties of a computer-assisted soft robot hand. The hand reaches for a green plush toy on the shelf.

“What we hear now is the same Aufblasgeräusch as before, to the mechanical clicking of the valves. The advantage is that with the soft hand objects like this Plush here can easily access, without us knowing what it looks like or that we have an accurate model of it. The hand adapts to the object. “

” The biggest challenge is that this approach to manipulation is so new that we only need to explore times, need to understand first time: What here are the principles that really determine success that can describe the gripping possibilities So we are basically very beginning of this new view of manipulation “

The hard robotic hands that still dominate in manufacturing technology, act in a totally controlled environment. Their every move is clearly defined by algorithms. When a robot hand with five fingers complicated object to be gripped calculations are necessary to everyone. The soft hands from Berlin reduce the computational effort, because the compliant material done much of the work themselves.

“The hands that we build operate, basically on the principle of a bellows, a balloon, which is inflated but not uniformly expands in every direction, but the expands more in certain directions than in others, and therefore curves, and can cling to an object. That is, the actual control, like the finger or the hand moves exactly the same way is outsourced to the material. Like a balloon, which can inflate when you put it in a bottle, and the balloon the shape of the bottle fits. in the opposite sense, it is that the hand adjusts the object that it attacks. And you do not actually calculate or plan, but arises solely by the material properties of the hands. “

These material properties are for the Berlin researchers advantage and a challenge. Because the soft robot hand has as demonstrated by the human hand before, and know what it takes.

“If we equip the hand with sensors, further layers come to just the layers that are equipped with sensors . And it is also a part of the task to be in this project to investigate how we can influence through different walls, different wall thicknesses, the properties of the hand so that they can better grasp. “

Sensor, Design Software and Hardware: The SOMA Project enters new territory in many places. Therefore Oliver Bock reacts behave on the question of when the flexible robot hand could warmly shake a man’s hand.

“Until we have a system that can have the human manipulation capabilities even remotely similar capabilities, which is still at least last for decades. “


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