Iranian Researcher Develops a Robotic Arm with a Firm Yet Gentle Grasp

Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 11:10

An Iranian researcher from University at Buffalo in cooperation with other engineers could develop a two-fingered robotic hand with the ability to alter the firmness of grip.

According to the university’s official website, the design of the robotic hand enables it to absorb energy from impacts during collisions. This prevents whatever the robot is holding from breaking, and also makes it safer for people to work with and near the machines.

Such grippers would be a valuable asset for human-robot partnership in assembly lines in the automotive, electronic packaging and other industries, says Ehsan Esfahani, PhD, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Our robotic gripper mimics the human hand’s ability to adjust the stiffness of the grip. These grippers are designed for collaborative robots that work together with people,” Esfahani says. “They’re going to be helpers, so they need to be safe, and variable stiffness grippers help to achieve that goal.”

A new study published online on Sept. 10 in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics highlights the device’s safe design, including through experiments showing how the gripper’s shock-absorbing features keep spaghetti stick from breaking during a collision.

Esfahani explains that magnets are the secret behind the robotic gripper’s versatility. Instead of having two fingers that are fixed in place, each of the gripper’s fingers has a magnetic base that sits between two neodymium magnets that repulse, or push against, the finger.


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