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University of California Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science Engineering IV XX-XXX
RoMeLa | RAPHaEL: Robotic Air Powered Hand with Elastic Ligaments
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Robotic Air Powered Hand with Elastic Ligaments

Researcher(s): Kyle Cothem

D.O.F.: 6

Actuators: Corrugated Tubing

Sensors: Flex sensors for Position, Force Sensitive Resistors for Force

Computing: National Instruments cRIO, custom board for mobile applications

RAPHaEL (Robotic-Air Powered Hand with Elastic Ligaments) is a humanoid robotic hand that utilizes corrugated tube actuation with compressed air. Unlike electromechanically actuated hands, thanks to the natural compliance, RAPHaEL can mimic the grasping capability of a human hand more accurately. By changing the pressure of the compressed air, the amount of applied force can also be controlled.

Mechanical Goals and Objectives

The goal of this project is to accurately emulate the motion and dexterity of a human hand. Once this has been accomplished, it can serve as a platform for research related to the the sensing and control in humanoid robotics. Future versions of the hand will be fabricated using SDM (Shape Deposition Manufacturing) technology which will enable us to embed all of the components into a single cohesive unit.


  • Natural compliance

  • Low in cost

  • Modular design allows for simple repair

  • Actuation requires minimum air input (15ml of air at 60psig to achieve actuation in one finger)

Potential Applications

  • Hazardous environment operation

  • Industry settings

  • Prosthetics

  • Telepresence

  • Entertainment

  • Sign language interpretation