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: $750,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: 11
Solicitation Number: DOE/SC-0059
Small Business Information
625 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 William Townsend
 (617) 252-9000
Business Contact
 David Wilkinson
Title: Mr.
Phone: (617) 252-9000
Email: dw@barrett.com
Research Institution
72726-Decommissioning and Deactivation (D&D) involves the dangerous disassembly of heavy concrete structures containing miles of steel pipes and other contaminated materials that must be cut up and removed from the inside of a sealed nuclear facility. A rover-mounted, remotely-controlled robot arm with a demolition tool fixtured to its tool plate can free workers from this high risk environment. Unfortunately, no one demolition tool has the versatility to adapt to the wide range of D&D materials, conditions, and operating tasks. Under the best circumstances the design, fabrication, integration, and debugging of tool-holding fixtures is a notoriously time-consuming cost driver. This project will develop a universal robotic hand specifically designed to secure and operate common off-the-shelf power demolition tools, semi-automatically swapping them as needed. Advanced embedded intelligence will enable the dexterous hand to adapt to the infinite variety of tool geometries, while rugged and fault-tolerant design will allow it to survive harsh conditions such as impacts and radiation. Phase I developed an initial hand prototype, along with grasping strategies, which proved secure under extreme conditions of vibration and reaction forces. Punishing real-world tests were conducted on the prototype, which was mounted at the end of a 50 kg-payload, 2 meter-reach industrial arm. Phase II will: (1) implement a passive-active strategy for increased mechanical ruggedness to survive unexpected impacts and chemical exposure; (2) develop fault-tolerant, self-healing firmware/software to overcome the harsh environmental extremes of radiation and electromagnetic interference; (3) expand functionality and operational control through the addition and synthesis of key vision, force, position, aural, and acceleration sensors; and (4) evaluate the robotic hand in realistic tasks. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: The automatically reconfigurable fixture should be a key enabler for industrial robotic installations around the globe, sharply reducing fixturing and tooling costs while supporting a new level of robot versatility. When not securing tools, the hand also would be available for performing a wide variety of other tasks, such as manipulating and clearing debris.

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

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