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The Schunk SAH gives robots a hand

22 September 2006

Now available from Schunk, the Schunk Anthropomorphic Hand (SAH) has been designed especially for use on service robots in both domestic and commercial environments. Developed on the basis of a study by the German Aerospace Centre and the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in conjunction with Schunk, the hand is based on a 4-finger concept. This will make it possible to solve gripping, handling and manipulation tasks encountered in everyday life.

The SAH is a delicate robotic hand, resembling the human hand in terms of mobility and appearance. It has four identical fingers and one is equipped with an additional configuration axis to function as an opposing thumb. The fingers are made of three joints, in which the proximal joint has two levels of movement and the distal joint is mechanically coupled to the medial joint. However, it is not only the hand’s mobility which successfully mimics the human original, but also the aesthetically appealing appearance based on the human hand which distinguishes it from previous technologies.

All the electric drives are integrated into the hand, so when used in conjunction with the Flat Changing System (FWS) with central electric guide, it enables the SAH to be fitted to any robot arm in a matter of seconds. The four joints duplicate the gripping and handling motor functions of the human hand. With cables enclosed in the mechatronic components and the humanoid colour and shape of the surfaces and fingers, the SAH looks very similar to a human hand. The non-slip grip surfaces and position and force sensors in the fingers give the SAH a high level of grip reliability as well as the fine tactile feeling necessary to be able to open bottles or pick up a raw egg.

The main use of the SAH will be humanoid assistance and service robots, which according to expert opinions and investigations will in future be frequently seen in the immediate living environment of households, homes or hospitals and will be as common as vacuum cleaners and computers are today. Schunk sees the SAH as a practical forerunner with regard to robotic hands suitable for small-series production. The modular design and the use of standard industrial components and common technologies contribute toward making the practical SAH approach into a marketable product solution suitable for day-to-day use.

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