Strong motivation for developing new prosthetic hand devices is provided by the fact that low functionality and controllability-in addition to poor cosmetic appearance-are the most important reasons why amputees do not regularly use their prosthetic hands. This paper presents the design of the CyberHand, a cybernetic anthropomorphic hand intended to provide amputees with functional hand replacement. Its design was bio-inspired in terms of its modular architecture, its physical appearance, kinematics, sensorization, and actuation, and its multilevel control system. Its underactuated mechanisms allow separate control of each digit as well as thumb-finger opposition and, accordingly, can generate a multitude of grasps. Its sensory system was designed to provide proprioceptive information as well as to emulate fundamental functional properties of human tactile mechanoreceptors of specific importance for grasp-and-hold tasks. The CyberHand control system presumes just a few efferent and afferent channels and was divided in two main layers: a high-level control that interprets the user's intention (grasp selection and required force level) and can provide pertinent sensory feedback and a low-level control responsible for actuating specific grasps and applying the desired total force by taking advantage of the intelligent mechanics. The grasps made available by the high-level controller include those fundamental for activities of daily living: cylindrical, spherical, tridigital (tripod), and lateral grasps. The modular and flexible design of the CyberHand makes it suitable for incremental development of sensorization, interfacing, and control strategies and, as such, it will be a useful tool not only for clinical research but also for addressing neuroscientific hypotheses regarding sensorimotor control.
2006. Vol. 95, no 6, 629-644 p.