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Research Papers

Microgripper-Embedded Fluid Fingertip-Enhancing Positioning and Holding Abilities for Versatile Grasping

[+] Author and Article Information
Toshihiro Nishimura

Graduate School of Natural Science
and Technology,
Kanazawa University,
Kakuma-machi,
Kanazawa 920-1192, Japan
e-mail: to.nishimura@stu.kanazawa-u.ac.jp

Yoshinori Fujihira

Graduate School of Engineering,
College of Design and Manufacturing
Technology,
Robotics Research Unit,
Muroran Institute of Technology,
27-1, Mizumoto-cho,
Muroran 050-8585, Hokkaido, Japan
e-mail: yfuji@mmm.muroran-it.ac.jp

Tetsuyou Watanabe

Institute of Science and Engineering,
Kanazawa University,
Kakuma-machi,
Kanazawa 920-1192, Japan
e-mail: te-watanabe@ieee.org

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 12, 2016; final manuscript received October 5, 2017; published online October 27, 2017. Editor: Vijay Kumar.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 9(6), 061017 (Oct 27, 2017) (13 pages) Paper No: JMR-16-1232; doi: 10.1115/1.4038217 History: Received August 12, 2016; Revised October 05, 2017

This paper presents a novel fingertip system with a two-layer structure for robotic hands. The outer part of the structure consists of a rubber bag filled with fluid, called the “fluid fingertip,” while the inner part consists of a rigid link mechanism called a “microgripper.” The fingertip thus is a rigid/fluid hybrid system. The fluid fingertip is effective for grasping delicate objects, that is, it can decrease the impulsive force upon contact, and absorb uncertainties in object shapes and contact force. However, it can only apply a small grasping force such that holding a heavy object with a robotic hand with fluid fingertips is difficult. Additionally, contact uncertainties including inaccuracies in the contact position control cannot be avoided. In contrast, rigid fingertips can apply considerable grasping forces and thus grasp heavy objects effectively, although this makes delicate grasping difficult. To maintain the benefits of the fluid fingertip while overcoming its disadvantages, the present study examines passively operable microgripper-embedded fluid fingertips. Our goal is to use the gripper to enhance the positioning accuracy and increase the grasping force by adding geometrical constraints to the existing mechanical constraints. Grasping tests showed that the gripper with the developed fingertips can grasp a wide variety of objects, both fragile and heavy.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Basic concept of proposed microgripper-embedded fluid fingertip

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Fig. 2

Schematic view of microgripper-embedded fluid fingertip

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Fig. 3

Role of stoppers: (a) outer stoppers prevent gripper from opening more than initial state and (b) inner stoppers prevent gripper from closing more than state in which both arms or pads contact each other at center

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Fig. 4

Three contact styles for proposed fingertip: (a) fragile object, (b) small and rigid object, and (c) thick and rigid object

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Fig. 5

Geometrical model when a bar object penetrates by with ε in the horizontal direction, and the corresponding nomenclatures

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Fig. 6

Statics when a bar object penetrates by with ε in the horizontal direction and the corresponding nomenclatures

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Fig. 7

Schematic of operation of automatic positioning system in microgripper

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Fig. 8

Schematic view of experimental setup for validating proposed automatic positioning system in microgripper

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Fig. 9

Experimental results showing object converging to center of flexible belt

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Fig. 10

Main dimensions of microgripper and fingertip

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Fig. 11

Case when object with thickness close to zero is grasped. Closing angle of arms or pads is a maximum.

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Fig. 12

Area where condition/Eq. (9) is satisfied (shaded area)

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Fig. 13

Relationship between l and l−d when the arms or pads are fully opened

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Fig. 14

Relationships at boundary of Eq. (9): (a)l versus l−d and (b) l versus (d(Id))/dI

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Fig. 15

Approximation of fingertip shape to an ellipse and definitions of xtip and ϕ

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Fig. 16

Schematic of experiment for deviation of relationship between P and xtip, and that between P and ϕ

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Fig. 17

Experimental results for relationship between P andxtip, and that between P and ϕ: (a) P versus xtip and (b) P versus ϕ

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Fig. 18

Manufactured fingertip without outer rubber or fluid

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Fig. 19

Schematic of gripper attaching microgripper-embedded fluid fingertips

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Fig. 20

Grasping of fragile objects: (a) soft Kinugoshi tofu, (b) strawberry, (c) potato chip, and (d) raw egg

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Fig. 21

Grasping of complex shaped objects: (a) electronic substrate and (b) toy model

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Fig. 22

Grasping of thin objects: (a) deformable object (PET sheet), (b) heavy object (vise), and (c) plastic substrate with 2.5 kg (24.5 N) weight

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Fig. 23

Grasping of large objects: (a) paper box, (b) heavy book, and (c) 2-L PET bottle

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Fig. 24

Grasping of 2-L PET bottle around its cap

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Fig. 25

Summary of grasping tests categorized by object type. A gripper with the proposed fingertips can grasp all object types.

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Fig. 26

Cantilever model for arm or pad of microgripper

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Fig. 27

Overview of experiment for determining maximum weight of graspable objects

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Fig. 28

Overview of impact test: (a) overview of the experimental setup and (b) results

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