Low-Cost Automatic Tool Fixturing Based on Dexterous Robotic Hand

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-03ER83610
Agency Tracking Number: 72726S03-I
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2003
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
139 Main Street, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA, 02142
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 William Townsend
 (617) 252-9000
Business Contact
 Burt Doo
Phone: (617) 252-9000
Email: bd@barrett.com
Research Institution
72726S03-I Decommissioning and Deactivation (D&D) activities at nuclear facilities involves the disassembly of heavy concrete structures containing miles of steel pipes and other materials that must be cut up and removed from the inside of a sealed facility. For this purpose, a remotely controlled robot arm, with a power-saw fixtured to its tool plate and mounted on a rover, would be a valuable substitute for human workers. However, no saw has the versatility to adapt to the wide range of D&D materials and cutting conditions; and, even under ideal circumstances, the design, fabrication, integration, and debugging of fixtures is a notoriously time-consuming cost driver. This project will develop a universal robotic hand that can secure and operate common off-the-shelf power tools, semi-automatically swap them as needed, and contribute to a wide variety of other tasks such as manipulating concrete blocks and other debris. Advanced embedded intelligence will enable the hand to adapt to the infinite variety of contoured shapes that defy conventional fixturing. Phase I will identify and procure a set of commercial tools that cover a range of D&D tasks. Using articulated wooden models, a variety of effective grasp geometries will be categorized according to ruggedness, cost, and versatility (including finger-squeeze trigger control of tool speed). An engineering analysis will be performed, and a preliminary concept design will be developed and evaluated for its overall impact on D&D operations. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: An automatically reconfigurable fixture should be a key enabler for industrial robotic installations around the globe. The technology would sharply reduce fixturing and tooling costs while supporting a new level of robot versatility.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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