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A Program of Continuing Research on Representing, Manipulating, and Reasoning about Physical Objects

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Quarterly status rept. Apr-Jun 1991

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One of the great deficiencies of todays robots is their lack of flexibility. Most industrial robots are capable only of simple and repetitive tasks, such as spot welding or spray painting. There are two main reasons for this deficiency. First, typical end-effectors use a very simple two stick structure. Second, dexterous manipulation manipulation by grippers with independently moving fingers is not well understood. Effective techniques for dexterous manipulation would have application within a wide range of areas, including industrial assembly, decontamination of nuclear plants, and exploration of remote environments e.g., ocean bottoms or space. We are developing a new strategy, finger tracking for the autonomous manipulation of objects by multifinger robot hands. Most of the earlier efforts devoted to understanding dexterous manipulation have been devoted to grasping or to manipulation for task-specific problems. the finger tracking paradigm reorients an object with a series of rotations effected by fine finger motions, in which the hand maintains contact with the object at all times. It is common for humans to reorient an object using extra fingers - those not needed for grasping. Finger tracking captures and formalizes these ideas. Our notion of manipulation refers to the reorientation of an object by a mechanical hand. the reorientation is accomplished by fine finger motions, with the object held in the hand through the entire process.

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  • Machinery and Tools

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