Shadow Robot Hand With Air Muscles

The Shadow Hand is described as the robotic hand that is closest to true human movement. The motions of a human hand map directly to the Shadow Hand. I saw the Shadow Hand demonstrated at the NextFest 2006 technology exhibition at the Javits Center in NYC last month.


(Shadow Hand robotic hand)

The Shadow Hand has integrated sensor and position control; the intent is to provide a robotic hand that can easily fit into other robotic platforms.

The Shadow Hand has a bank of forty Air Muscles that make it move. It behaves in a manner that is very similar to biological muscles, thus imparting a more realistic motion to the Shadow Hand. They are very light, and provide a compliant, soft actuator for robotic hand movement. The Air Muscle consists of a rubber tube covered in tough plastic netting which shortens in length like a human muscle when inflated with compressed air at low pressure.


(Shadow Hand Air Muscle)

In the demonstration, the operator showed that the hand was capable of uniquely human movements. When you grasped the hand, the compliant motion was much more "humanlike", due to the Air Muscles powering the hand. The "forearm" of this robot hand was somewhat thicker than yours, due to the bundle of muscles needed to provide the necessary degrees of motion.

Robotic hands from a variety of manufacturers are gaining in dexterity, grip strength and degrees of freedom. Here is a fistful of mechanical hands for you to grasp.

Look at more NextFest 2006 Devices, Stories and Pictures.

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