Design and testing of a selectively compliant underactuated hand

Daniel M. Aukes, Barrett Heyneman, John Ulmen, Hannah Stuart, Mark R. Cutkosky, Susan Kim, Pablo Garcia, Aaron Edsinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Motivated by the requirements of mobile manipulation, a compliant underactuated hand, capable of locking individual joints, has been developed. Locking is accomplished with electrostatic brakes in the joints and significantly increases the maximum pullout forces for power grasps. In addition, by locking and unlocking joints, the hand can adopt configurations and grasp sequences that would otherwise require a fully actuated solution. Other features of the hand include an integrated sensing suite that uses a common transduction technology on flexible printed circuits for tactile and proprioceptive sensing. The hand is analyzed using a three-dimensional rigid body analysis package with efficient simulation of compliant mechanisms and contacts with friction. This package allows one to evaluate design tradeoffs among link lengths, required tendon tensions, spring stiffnesses and braking requirements to grasp and hold a wide range of objects. Results of grasping and pullout tests confirm the utility of the simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-735
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Multifingered hands
  • design and control
  • grasping
  • manipulation
  • mechanics
  • underactuated robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


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