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Designing a Telemanipulator

The Problem

Telemanipulators are systems of mechanical linkages that allow hazardous or toxic materials to be handled remotely and, thus, more safely.  As such, they are designed to mimic movements of the hands and arms.  Since their invention in the late 1940's, significant design improvements have been made.

However, one feature not receiving adequate study has been the design of the handle itself, such as:

  • Handle length and its compatibility across user hand sizes
  • Handle shape and how well it conforms to the human hand
  • Activation buttons' contact with fingers
  • Size and adjustability of handle finger loops

These critical design component impact the ease and comfort with which telemanipulators can be used.

Action Taken

Our team worked with telemanipulator designers to test and evaluate the feasiblity of possible new handle designs, taking into account features such as:

  • Hand posture on telemanipulator
  • Handle material, shape, diameter, length, and surface material
  • Equipment functionality

This collaboration led to several design improvements, such as:

  • A redesigned handle that better conforms to the shape of the hand
  • Finger grips that make use easier and safer when two hands are placed on the telemanipulator
  • Finger loops that swivel, to improve grip throughout movement
  • Multiple adjustment options to accommodate differing hand sizes

This effort resulted in an improved telemanipulator handle, which is now sold commercially.  For more information, read the whitepaper written by Central Research Laboratories.