Learning a State Transition Model of an Underactuated Adaptive Hand

Avishai Sintov, Andrew S. Morgan, Andrew Kimmel, Aaron M. Dollar, Kostas E. Bekris, Abdeslam Boularias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Fully actuated multifingered robotic hands are often expensive and fragile. Low-cost underactuated hands are appealing but present challenges due to the lack of analytical models. This letter aims to learn a stochastic version of such models automatically from data with minimum user effort. The focus is on identifying the dominant, sensible features required to express hand state transitions given quasi-static motions, thereby enabling the learning of a probabilistic transition model from recorded trajectories. Experiments both with Gaussian processes (GP) and neural etwork models are included for analysis and evaluation. The metric for local GP regression is obtained with a manifold learning approach, known as Diffusion Maps, to uncover the lower-dimensional subspace in which the data lies and provide a geodesic metric. Results show that using Diffusion Maps with a feature space composed of the object position, actuator angles, and actuator loads, sufficiently expresses the hand-object system configuration and can provide accurate enough predictions for a relatively long horizon. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first learned transition model for such underactuated hands that achieves this level of predictability. Notably, the same feature space implicitly embeds the size of the manipulated object and can generalize to new objects of varying sizes. Furthermore, the learned model can identify states that are on the verge of failure and which should be avoided during manipulation. The usefulness of the model is also demonstrated by integrating it with closed-loop control to successfully and safely complete manipulation tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8624443
Pages (from-to)1287-1294
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Dexterous Manipulation
  • Tendon/Wire Mechanism
  • Underactuated Robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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