Most modern prosthetic hands are typically based in the world of man made machines rather than evolutionary biology. But, two researchers at the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science & Engineering have now created a bio mimetic artificial hand.
The hand is designed to mimic a human hand in operation, due primarily to its construction rather than any kind of programming. This has lots of potential advantages in telemanipulation, since the operator can more seamlessly leverage the dexterity of their own hands.
‘Controlled with a waldo remote manipulator the robotic hand is able to very closely mimic a wide variety of grasps.’
"The control of prosthetic hands essentially relies on human brain. Therefore the same neuroprosthetic technologies could be more effective if the design of the prosthesis could be more similar to its biological counterpart", said, Zhe Xu, University of Washington.
First, a human skeleton hand was scanned and then 3D-printed artificial bones to match, which allowed them to duplicate the unfixed joint axes that we have.
Joint ligaments were made with strings, tendons with laser-cut rubber sheets which is a complex webbed multi-layered structure that wraps around the fingers to help manage flexibility and torque.
Controlled with a waldo remote manipulator the robotic hand is able to very closely mimic a wide variety of grasps. Users can also perform complicated in-hand manipulation without force feedback, which the researchers attribute to the kinematics of their hand so closely matching that of a real human hand.