A two DoF finger for a biomechatronic artificial hand

Current prosthetic hands are basically simple grippers with one or two degrees of freedom, which barely restore the capability of the thumb-index pinch. Although most amputees consider this performance as acceptable for usual tasks, there is ample room for improvement by exploiting recent progresses in mechatronics design and technology. We are developing a novel prosthetic hand featured by multiple degrees of freedom, tactile sensing capabilities, and distributed control. Our main goal is to pursue an integrated design approach in order to fulfill critical requirements such as cosmetics, controllability, low weight, low energy consumption and noiselessness. This approach can be synthesized by the definition "biomechatronic design", which means developing mechatronic systems inspired by living beings and able to work harmoniously with them. This paper describes the first implementation of one single finger of a future biomechatronic hand. The finger has a modular design, which allows to obtain hands with different degrees of freedom and grasping capabilities. Current developments include the implementation of a hand comprising three fingers (opposing thumb, index and middle) and an embedded controller.