16-848 Hands: Design and Control for Dexterous Manipulation

Spring 2020
MW 1:30-2:50pm
GHC 4102

Research related to hands has increased dramatically over the past decade. Robot hand innovation may be at an all time high, with new materials and manufacturing techniques promoting an explosion of ideas. Hands have become a priority in virtual reality and telepresence. Even the study of how people use their hands is seeing the growth of new ideas and themes.

With all of this attention on hands, are we close to a breakthrough in dexterity, or are we still missing some things needed for truly dexterous manipulation?

In this course, we will survey robotic hands and learn about the human hand with the goal of pushing the frontiers on hand design and control for dexterous manipulation. We will consider the necessary kinematics and dynamics for dexterity, what sensors are required to carry out dexterous interactions, the importance of reflexes and compliance, the role of machine learning in grasping and manipulation, and the challenge of uncertainty. We will explore state of the art manufacturing and design techniques, including innovations in soft robotics and embedded sensing. We will examine the human hand: its structure, sensing capabilities, human grasp choice and control strategies for inspiration and benchmarking. Students will be asked to present one or two research papers, participate in discussions and short research or design exercises, and carry out a final project.

Instructor: Nancy Pollard


Syllabus

Week of Mon Wed
Jan 13 Course Introduction / Historical Robot Hands More Intro / Case Study: JamHand
Jan 20 No Class: Martin Luther King Day
Course Introduction / The Human Hand
Jan 27 Design Case Studies
Design Case Studies
Feb 3 What is a good design? / Benchmarking
Presentations I
Feb 10 Robotic Grasping
Human Grasping
Feb 17 Robotic Manipulation
Human Manipulation
Feb 24 Presentations II
Soft Hands / Grippers Case Study
Mar 2 TBD
FINAL PROJECT PITCHES
Mar 9 SPRING BREAK
SPRING BREAK
Mar 16 Robotic Tactile Sensing
Human Tactile Sensing
Mar 23 Presentations III
Learning / Planning
Mar 30 Dealing with Uncertainty
Learning from Data
Apr 6 Robust Manipulation
FINAL PROJECT CHECKPOINT
Apr 13 Compliance / Control
Presentations IV
Apr 20 TBD
TBD
Apr 27 FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATIONS
FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATIONS


Topics of interest for this course include: