Adam Allevato and his team of fellow mechanical engineering students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins have created a human-like hand that can be operated in environments that are toxic to humans.
The Glove-Operated Digitally Synced Hand is a mechanical device whose movement can be controlled remotely. The hand was created for use in environments that are too dangerous for humans, but still need the dexterity of a human hand. The students see the hand as an effective tool for bomb diffusing and for work in contaminated nuclear reactors.
Click the image below for a close-up view of the Glove-Operated Digital Hand:
The PIC for the hand is mounted on one of two protoboards along with the other required electrical components, and the protoboards are mounted vertically in the base of the forearm.
Great project and good video, but some of the comments lead me to believe many readers do not realize just how pervasive computers and logic controllers are in a modern factory. Our machine maintence mechanic often has to setup and/or reprogram logic controllers, particularly on safety devices. Granted, it is nowhere near as sophisticated as this team dealt with, but it is 10x more complex than engineers had to deal with when I first entered manufacturing.
Choosing which microcontrollers to use was very straightforward. First of all, it was a requirement of the project that we use at least one PIC controller. The Arduino was an ideal choice because of the number of analog inputs it had (to receive information from the flex sensors) and because I (the group's programmer) had some hobby experience with C and C++ programming.
So, yes, we understand that our project may not hold up to intense heat or radiation, but we did the best we could within the constraints of time and the project requirements.
Great job on the hand project. You should consider other computing platforms if this is to really be used in harsh environments. The pieces could be made of corrosion resistant alloys OK. The PIC would not hold up in a high temperature or high radiation environment.
Great job!! I'm very impressed with the work of a team of MEs with no or little programming and little electrical experience was able to successfully accomplish in those areas. How did the team make decisions on selecting the electrical components? For example, how did you select the PIC processor and the Ardunio board? Did you use the microcontroller on the Arudnio board or only the PIC processor?
All of our group members are mechanical engineering majors. Two of us are double majors, but in engineering science with space and education concentrations. No one in the group has taken beyond Physics II (electromagnetism) and Circuit Design I (a requirement for MEs at CSU). None of us have taken programming classes in college. The fact that our group and many other groups in the class used complicated circuitry and programming speaks to the excellent student body and the ability of our teachers and TAs.
In doing preliminary research, I found that there was a lot of readily available documentation for Xbees but had more trouble finding anything regarding Wi-Fi. Additionally, because the XBees could essentially be used as an "invisible wire" this was the route that we chose to take for our project.
Great project Adam and team! I would think at least one of you has to be from the electrical engineering department with all the microcontrollers and software involved. Am I right?
Being an electrical engineer myself but having no experience with Xbee, I am wondering if you weighed the pros and cons of using WiFi instead of Xbee for your wireless interface protocol.
Interestingly enough, using rubber bands from braces worked extremely well for what we needed in this project. I'm sure that a more commercially viable solution could be found, but the only problem that we have had with them was that they wear out after being in place for too long. They are stretched a bit beyond their optimal operating length.
Talk about a shoestring budget! Using rubber bands from someone's braces is a cost-cutting technique that I hadn't heard of before. Kudos to you and your team, Adam. There must be a lot of engineering departments that need people who know how to get a job done with such thriftiness.
The final showdown is under way in our first-ever Gadget Freak of the Year contest. Who will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show? It's up to you, dear readers, to tell us.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.