Robotic Hand With Haptic Feedback
Ethan Fraser
Independent or Home Schooled
Floor Location : M 110 N

During the past year, I have been working on a robotic hand, control system, and a haptic feedback system. I originally started it for fun, and one thing led to another.

Stage 1: 3D printed robotic hand (April – May 2015) (completed)

My goal was to make a 3D printed humanoid hand controlled from a computer. For this stage I designed, printed and assembled the fingers and palm using Google Sketchup and a Printrbot 3D printer. I then was able to input different commands into a computer to control the opening and closing of the fingers. For the computer control I used Python 3 to send commands to an Arduino to open and close each finger using servo motors connected with high tensile line.

Stage 2: Adding a better control system (May 2015 – June 2015) (completed)

Having a complete working hand, I then wanted to make a control system that would mimic the user's hand movements. I decided to make a glove that had flex sensors mounted on the back to measure how much the glove was bent. However much your fingers in the glove would open or close, each of the robotic hand's fingers would copy those movements. This time, the system and programming was all Arduino-based.

Stage 3: Haptic user feedback (touch feedback) (Sept 2016 – present) (in progress)

For this stage, I wanted to have a feedback system so the operator can feel what the robotic hand is feeling: I thought that an exoskeleton on the back of a glove would be able to do this function. When the operator would open and close their fingers the robotic hand would do the same. When each finger on the robotic hand closes around a object and can't close any more the exoskeleton prevents the operator's hand from closing further like they are feeling the shape of the object.

I did four months of background research to find other haptic feedback systems like this, and I wasn't able to find anything quite like what I wanted to do. Most other haptic gloves use vibration feedback, but I wanted force feedback for mine.

I have started designing 3D printed prototype parts for one finger for the exoskeleton. Each part has been redesigned and remade multiple times to get to the final product.

If my project is accepted to the science fair, I am hoping to have one exoskeleton finger working with the flex sensors (from stage 2) and the robotic hand (from stage 1).

A robotic hand control system like this could be used as a more precise and intuitive control system in many different environments like space. The haptic feedback system could also be used in a virtual reality environment as a feedback system for the user.