Robust Robotic Hand Design for Remote Ocean Exploration
Capable mobile manipulation will be a cornerstone for the future of marine exploration. Robotic intervention is typically executed via end-effectors. Compliant underactuated hands are a useful solution in highly unstructured environments, allowing a range of grasp types and affording physical robustness without the complexity of a fully-actuated design. However, these devices often trade off dexterity and simplicity. In this talk, I will address the design of a hand that is versatile in marine environments, while also light and resilient.
Ocean One is a submersible humanoid robot intended to bring intuitive telepresence to delicate subsea environments. Its adaptive, multi-finger, tendon-driven hands can perform precision pinches and strong wrap grasps with a single actuator. A spring-loaded transmission allows for controllable grasp force distribution, such that the hand can be relatively soft for handling delicate objects and stiff for tasks requiring more strength. We also explore the addition of gentle suction flow to the fingertips as a way to enhance grasp acquisition and sense contact. We demonstrate how the active selection of grasp compliance and contact conditions using these mechanisms can significantly influence grasp reliability.
This hand design was field-tested as part of Ocean One’s maiden voyage to the La Lune shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea.