A Manipulator for Glovebox Operation
Mechatronics, 1, (1), .
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To satisfy the safety demands required by certain industries, in particular those involved in the handling of chemical, biological and nuclear materials, there is an increasing reliance on robotics and manipulator systems. One area that has proved difficult to automate is the existing glove-box facilities. A possible solution is to allow manipulators to operate through the existing glove-ports instead of rebuilding the complete facilities. This paper discusses the development of a manipulator that is capable of fitting and operating in a standard synthetic rubber glove-box glove, and therefore gaining access to the hazardous area. A significant design feature of the manipulator is its anthropomorphic end effector, which consists of four mechanically adaptive fingers together with a simple opposing thumb. The mechanisms developed produce motions that are similar to that of the human finger. The hand is oriented by a compact six degrees of freedom arm, where the requirement for in-glove operation placed a number of significant design constraints on the size of the joints. To maximize the operational potential of this system, including the dexterous hand, full use is made of sensors and hierarchical control structures. The complete manipulator has been successfully installed in a glove-box facility for trials, the results of which are discussed in this paper.
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