An Embedded, Multi-Modal Sensor System for Scalable Robotic and Prosthetic Hand Fingers

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Dec 23;20(1):101. doi: 10.3390/s20010101.


Grasping and manipulation with anthropomorphic robotic and prosthetic hands presents a scientific challenge regarding mechanical design, sensor system, and control. Apart from the mechanical design of such hands, embedding sensors needed for closed-loop control of grasping tasks remains a hard problem due to limited space and required high level of integration of different components. In this paper we present a scalable design model of artificial fingers, which combines mechanical design and embedded electronics with a sophisticated multi-modal sensor system consisting of sensors for sensing normal and shear force, distance, acceleration, temperature, and joint angles. The design is fully parametric, allowing automated scaling of the fingers to arbitrary dimensions in the human hand spectrum. To this end, the electronic parts are composed of interchangeable modules that facilitate the mechanical scaling of the fingers and are fully enclosed by the mechanical parts of the finger. The resulting design model allows deriving freely scalable and multimodally sensorised fingers for robotic and prosthetic hands. Four physical demonstrators are assembled and tested to evaluate the approach.

Keywords: anthropomorphic robotic hands; hand prostheses; parametric model; prosthetic fingers; robotic fingers; sensorised fingers; tactile sensors.

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Fingers
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Robotics*
  • Touch / physiology*