Me talking with the head of robotics, Dr Petar Kormushev, about my project.
Create an interesting human interaction by using both mechanical and electrical means, BUT whatever you make has to be utterly useless in the real-world to allow for maximum creative freedom.
I set out to allow a user to shake their own hand.
A user would insert their hand into a glove which would copy their exact movements to the robotic hand which they would then shake in unison with the other hand which is joined via a linkage.
How Does It Work?
The 'glove' that the user wears is actually 0.5mm 3D printed PLA which conforms with the hand and houses 5 flex sensors on each finger. The values from these sensors are mapped to the servo motors That pull a fishing line to bend the finger, which is sprung with elastic shock cord.
Trying to mimic the human hand
This quick model was a simple proof of concept that demonstrated the basic functionality of what I needed to make.
Multiplying this single finger 5 times with 5 sensors and motors to see if they could all work independently.
Creating a flexible glove that would fit a wide range of hands sizes - this involved rapid prototyping and iteration.
Using both parametric and freeform CAD techniques to sculpt a natural, human-like palm that could be 3D printed.
Subtle changes to finger cross-sections and angles to make the hand seem less robotic.
Copying how the human hand works, fishing line was used as tendons. The motors needed to be arranged so that there were no tangles whilst being space-efficient.
How to move the hand up and down? Motors could be used but a far more elegant and simple way was a linkage to rigidly connect your hand to the robot's.
Finite Element Analysis was used to ensure 3d printed parts would not fail in use under the given loads and stress.