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Grasping the possibilities of using robotic hands

October 5, 2011

Veronica J. Santos wants to give the world some helping hands – specifically, robotic hands.

The Biomechatronics Lab she directs at Arizona State University is working on designs of robotic appendages to assist people with physical disabilities or injuries. Such technology might also be adapted to perform tasks in disaster areas or other places where human safety and health would be at risk.

She foresees roles for robotic hands in our homes, in hospitals and even museums.

Making robotic devices with such varied capabilities requires a number of technological achievements. Engineers must develop more fully integrated human-machine systems that give users neuromuscular control of robotic hands.

That will involve enabling artificial hands to match humans’ delicate sense of touch and the ability to calculate the various degrees of force and pressure necessary to carefully grasp objects of different sizes, shapes, weight and materials.

Santos is an assistant professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Read more about her Biomechatronics Lab.

Video by Keith Jennings. Editing by Dylan Abrams.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering