A Three-Finger Gripper for Manipulation in Unstructured Environments

A gripper is described for manipulation in natural, unstructured environments. The specific manipulation task is to pick up surface material such as pebbles or small rocks in a natural terrain. The application is to give autonomous sampling capabilities to an autonomous vehicle for planetary exploration. The authors describe the task analysis process that led to the selection of a configuration with three soft fingers. They carry out a complete analysis of the stability of a grasp for this gripper including an analysis of the deformation of the fingers at the points of contact. The implementation of a grasp selection algorithm is described, and results on three-dimensional representations of objects computed from range data are presented

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