Siemens Award for a Gripper Functioning Like a Human Hand

Jacek Szkopek, MSc. Eng., a graduate and a PhD student of the GUT Faculty of Electrical and Control Engineering, created an anthropomorphic gripper driven by pneumatic muscles. His master thesis on this subject, supervised by Łukasz Doliński, PhD Eng., from the Department of Mechatronics and High Voltage Engineering, won the third prize in the 9th Siemens Award Competition for electrical and control engineering graduates.

 

„Biomimetic solutions become extremely popular. The mechanism I designed allows the manipulation of objects of different shapes and sizes, and is also completely adapted to serve technical purposes, from its mechanics to control algorithms”, Szkopek says.

The system is composed of a gripper constituting the „external” prosthesis, user interface responsible for systems calibration, pneumatic muscles and a phantom, which is an element placed on the operator’s hand. Its creator claims that this device could be used by people with partial limb paresis in an industrial process employing remote operations.

The gripper’s design, made with 3D printing, reflects the human hand anatomy, especially its bone structure. A set of tendons going through bones allows bending and straightening the joints, with artificial muscles moving the tendons as a driving mechanism.

“McKibben artificial muscles I designed for my device are elastic and powerful. They have already been known for at least half a century, and their properties make them perfect for stationary mechanisms”, the designer explains.

Jacek Szkopek, MSc. Eng., is now further developing his idea as a part of his PhD thesis supervised by Prof. Grzegorz Redlarski.

“I am going to design a completely new device, which will be based on human bone models to mirror hand mobility and complexity as closely as possible. Besides a complicated system of tendons, I want to use muscles made of intelligent materials. They will be light, compact and dynamic, while the entire construction is going to be completely mobile and independent from outside energy sources”, the PhD student claims, adding that his new project is quite a challenge. “I’m facing new problems, not only when it comes to particular systems (mechanics, sensors etc.), but also to integrating them into a single device. The potential of such solutions grows ever bigger, since advanced prosthetics and human-like robots are soon believed to not only work in extreme conditions, for example in space, but also in everyday life, like with the elderly”.

The annual Siemens Award Competition, organized by the Siemens company and Warsaw University of Technology, promotes outstanding achievements in the technical field, including best theses prepared in different scientific institutions across Poland. Siemens funds money prizes for the winners and equipment for their universities, and the GUT Faculty of Electrical and Control Engineering will receive it as well. The awards were granted at the end of June at Warsaw University of Technology.

Jacek Szkopek’s thesis also won the third prize in the Polish State Fund for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled competition for the best thesis about medical rehabilitation and took third place in the poster session during the PhD student conference BioMed Session 2018.

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