Improving Robotic Manipulation without Sacrificing Grasping Efficiency:

A Multi-Modal, Adaptive Gripper with Reconfigurable Finger Bases

This work proposes a framework that improves the dexterous manipulation capabilities of two fingered grippers by optimizing the finger link dimensions and analyzing the effect of finger symmetry and the distance between the finger base frames on their manipulation workspaces. The results of the workspace analysis motivate the development of a multi-modal, adaptive robotic gripper. In particular, the finger link lengths optimization problem is solved by a parallel multi-start search algorithm. The optimal link lengths are then used for the workspace analysis. The results of the analysis demonstrate that different inter-finger distances lead to completely different workspace shapes and that the ratio defined by the area of the optimized workspace (nominator) and the union of all workspaces (denominator), is always significantly less than 1. This means that the area of the union of all workspaces is always larger than the area of the “optimized” workspace. Based on these results the proposed robotic gripper is equipped with reconfigurable finger bases that vary the inter-finger distance as well as with selectively lockable robotic finger joints, offering an increased dexterous manipulation performance without sacrificing grasping efficiency. The device is considered multi-modal as it can be used both as a parallel jaw gripper and as an adaptive robotic gripper.