2G "Velo" Gripper

[Overview][Grasping][Early Release][FAQ][Contact]

Overview

At Willow Garage we are constantly engaged in exploration and research work aiming to advance towards future personal robots. In this context, an ongoing project explores novel gripper designs and grasping strategies using them. The Velo 2G Gripper is a result of this exploratory project. Starting from early research prototypes, we have taken the current design to what we refer to as Alpha prototypes, which we are describing here. Based on 3D printing technology, the Alphas can be manufactured in small batches and used for application research and exploration, as well as integration on exploratory mobile manipulation platforms.

Grasping Capabilities

Parallel grippers are effective on a wide range of objects and tasks, executing fingertip grasps between two perfectly opposing pads. However, adding the ability to envelop objects can greatly increase the stability of the grasp in many situations. We explored the design space aiming to achieve both of these capabilities.The Velo has two fingers with two joints each, and is tendon-driven. Aiming to reduce the complexity and potential cost, we used a single actuator, resulting in an underactuated design. The gripper executes fingertip or enveloping grasps by passively adapting to the shape of the grasped object. Extension is passive, provided by springs. 

The route of the tendons and the magnitude of the extension forces are optimized to execute both parallel and envelopping grasps, and to passively transition from one to the other based on the shape of the grasped object. The forces applied to the target object are also optimized to result in stable grasps in a large set of possible configurations. Passive adaptation also allows the gripper to conform to asymmetric or irregular shapes.

The dimensions of the palm and the links are optimized to execute enveloping grasps on a large set of common household objects. 


   

The Velo can also execute fingertip grasps for picking up small objects off a flat surface, using contact with the surface to its advantage through passive adaptation.

 

Early Release 

Willow Garage is considering making a limited number of Early Release Velo Grippers available for purchase for early research and development. We hope to have between 50 and 100 units available, sometime in Fall of 2013. The Early Release units will be fully functional, intended to give users an early start in developing applications, and to explore the path to a possible future product. They will come as self-contained units, complete with kinematics (fingers), actuation and electronics.

We expect this limited build of early release prototypes to be depleted quickly. In order to get an advance notification when they become available, and the option to order one before the general public, please sign up here. On the same page you will also find more details about the expected specifications of the Early Release grippers, as well as an optional survey to tell us more about your requirements.

The image below shows the Velo Alpha Prototype that the Early Release units will be based on. We expect the fingers to be largely unchanged compared to the Alpha version below, while the actuation module will likely be redesigned into a more compact form. 

  

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is the Velo available for sale?
    • The Velo is currently not available as a product. However, we are exploring the possibility of offering a limited Early Release version for sale in the Fall of 2013. If you would be interested, please add your email to the advance notification list, and maybe also complete the optional survey on the same page.
  • What robots have you mounted the Velo on?
    • We have tested the Velo on the PR2 robot, integrated it with ROS grasipng and manipulation software, and used to grasp a wide variety of objects both under teleoperation and under manual control.
Contact and More Info

For more information, please email us at gripperdesign@willowgarage.com