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A Theory of Soft Synergies for a New Generation of Artificial Hands

Objective

"Although many advances have been made in the mechatronics and
computational hardware of artificial hands, the state of the art
appears to be only marginally closer to a satisfactory functional
approximation of the human hand than it was twenty years ago. In
my analysis, the main reasons for this are not merely techni-cal,
but invest some fundamental issues in the understanding of the
organization and control of hands, and ultimately the lack of a
theory to guide us in the search for a principled approach to
taming the complexity of hands. In this project, I propose to
contribute to the development of the fundamental elements of such
a theory, and bring them to fruition in functional engineered
devices. I expect to be able to break through the rather slowly
moving front of the state of the art because of the combination
of two crucial, recent innovations. The first pillar, and the
prime theoretical enabler for this program, is an approach to the
description of the organi-zation of the hand sensorimotor system
in terms of geometric constraints, or synergies: correlations in
redun-dant hand mobility (motor synergies), correlations in
redundant cutaneous and kinaesthetic receptor readings (multi-cue
integration), and overall sensorimotor control
synergies. Elements of such theories have emerged recently in
neurosciences, but their exploitation in the sciences of the
artificial is an enormous potential barely touched upon till
now. The second pillar, providing the new technology needed to
build simpler and more effective artificial hands, is the
understanding of the role of variable impedance actuation in
embodying intelligent grasping and manipulation behaviours in
humans, and the availability of a new generation of “robot
muscles”, i.e. actuators capable of tuning their impedance to
adapt to the environment and the task. These ideas will be
pursued in close collaboration with specialists in related
domains of neuroscience and robotics."

Call for proposal

ERC-2011-ADG_20110209
See other projects for this call

Host institution

FONDAZIONE ISTITUTO ITALIANO DI TECNOLOGIA
Address
Via Morego 30
16163 Genova
Italy
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 2 279 600
Principal investigator
Antonio Bicchi (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Simona Ventriglia (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

FONDAZIONE ISTITUTO ITALIANO DI TECNOLOGIA
Italy
EU contribution
€ 2 279 600
Address
Via Morego 30
16163 Genova
Activity type
Research Organisations
Principal investigator
Antonio Bicchi (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Simona Ventriglia (Ms.)