Minimalist, underactuated hand designs can be modified to produce useful, dexterous, in-hand capabilities without sacrificing their passive adaptability in power grasping. Incorporating insight from studies in parallel mechanisms, we implement and investigate the “spherical hand” morphologies: novel, hand topologies with two fingers configured such that the instantaneous screw axes, describing the displacement of the grasped object, always intersect at the same point relative to the palm. This produces the same instantaneous motion about a common point for any object geometry in a stable grasp. Various rotary fingertip designs are also implemented to help maintain stable contact conditions and minimize slip, in order to prove the feasibility of this design in physical hand implementations. The achievable precision manipulation workspaces of the proposed morphologies are evaluated and compared to prior human manipulation data as well as manipulation results with traditional three-finger hand topologies. Experiments suggest that the spherical hands' design modifications can make the system's passive reconfiguration more easily predictable, providing insight into the expected object workspace while minimizing the dependence on accurate object and contact modeling. We believe that this design can significantly reduce the complexity of planning and executing dexterous manipulation movements in unstructured environments with underactuated hands.

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