In the book's first section, kinematic and force analysis is applied to the problem of designing and controlling articulated hands for manipulation. The analysis of the interface between fingertip and grasped object then becomes the basis for the specification of acceptable hand kinematics.
A practical result of this work has been the development of the Stanford/JPL robot hand - a tendon-actuated, 9 degree-of-freedom hand which is being used at various laboratories around the country to study the associated control and programming problems aimed at improving robot dexterity.
Chapters in the second section study the characteristics of object motion in the presence of friction. Systematic exploration of the mechanics of pushing leads to a model of how an object moves under the combined influence of the manipulator and the forces of sliding friction. The results of these analyses are then used to demonstrate verification and automatic planning of some simple manipulator operations.
Matthew T. Mason is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University, and coeditor of Robot Motion (MIT Press 1983). J. Kenneth Salisbury, Jr. is a Research Scientist at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and president of Salisbury Robotics, Inc.
Robot Hands and the Mechanics of Manipulation is 14th in the Artificial Intelligence Series, edited by Patrick Henry Winston and Michael Brady.