Abstract: “Gentle suction flow at the fingertips of a compliant hand can enhance object acquisition and increase the robustness of pinch grasps under water. The approach adds a low-pressure pump and flexible tubes that terminate at the distal phalanges. The light flow rate does not create a powerful suction force, nor does it stir up significant sediment. The method works on porous and rough objects in addition to smooth objects as it does not require forming a seal. It changes contact conditions—normal force and coefficient of friction—and enlarges the acquisition region when grasping free objects under water. A simple hydrodynamic model matches empirical force measurements adequately for incorporation in a dynamic simulation to explore the effects of flow rate and object mass. Simulations and experiments show that effects of fingertip suction flow are most pronounced for acquiring objects on the order of 1 kg or less and when pinching large objects. Gentle suction flow is an effective, versatile, and convenient addition for robots that must grasp and manipulate objects under water.”
Work supported by the Stanford Graduate Fellowship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and Lieberman Fellowship.