This paper presents the design, analysis, and testing of a novel multimodal grasper having the capabilities of shape conformation, within-hand manipulation, and a built-in compact mechanism to vary the forces at the contact surface. The proposed grasper has two important qualities: versatility and less complexity. The former refers to the ability to grasp a range of objects having different geometrical shape, size, and payload and perform in-hand manipulations such as rolling and sliding, and the latter refers to the uncomplicated design, and ease of planning and control strategies. Increasing the number of functions performed by the grasper to adapt to a variety of tasks in structured and unstructured environments without increasing the mechanical complexity is the main interest of this research. The proposed grasper consists of two hybrid jaws having a rigid inner structure encompassed by a flexible, active gripping surface. The flexibility of the active surface has been exploited to achieve shape conformation, and the same has been utilized with a compact mechanism, introduced in the jaws, to vary the contact forces while grasping and manipulating an object. Simple and scalable structure, compactness, low cost, and simple control scheme are the main features of the proposed design. Detailed kinematic and static analysis are presented to show the capability of the grasper to adjust and estimate the contact forces without using a force sensor. Experiments are conducted on the fabricated prototype to validate the different modes of operation and to evaluate the advantages of the proposed concept.

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