Aaron Dollar Wins Prestigious "MIT Tech Review 2010 Young Innovators Under 35 Award" (TR35) for Creating Flexible Robotic Hands

Shape Deposition Molding (SDM) Robot Hands

Dr. Aaron Dollar of Yale's GRAB Lab was recently awarded the prestigious "MIT Tech Review 2010 Young Innovators Under 35" award, better known as TR35, for his work on building flexible robot hands through shape deposition manufacturing (SDM).  The SDM process allows multiple materials to be integrated into a single mechanism, including soft finger pads, compliant joints, rigid members, sensors, and even tubes to run wires and cables.  In fact, this is the same / similar process by which the Meka Robotics H2 Hand (eg. on Simon) is constructed.  Anyway, this is a promising trend for robotics research; TR35 seems to consistently recognise the contributions of top roboticists, such as Andrea Thomaz (2009), Andrew Ng (2008), Robert Wood (2008), Josh Bongard (2007), etc. Congratulations Aaron!

I have no intention to fully examine the SDM process here (we tried that once before); instead, I'll point you to a few select papers and show some images to spark your curiosity.  


SDM Compliant Robot Hand  SDM Compliant Robot Hand

SDM Process

SDM Compliant Robot Hand  SDM Compliant Robot Hand


Apparently this robot hand is a (as yet undocumented?) successor to Aaron's original SDM work and is featured in the TR35 profile:

SDM Robot Hand

A MIT Tech Review video highlighting Aaron's contributions can be found here.



I meant to comment on this back in August, but it slipped my mind.  There was a nice article in Popular Science about how Aaron Dollar and crew from the Grab Lab recently deployed their SDM robot hand onto an unmanned helicopter, named the Yale Aerial Manipulator

SDM Robot Hand on Helicopter



Using an under-actuated (yet capable) gripper makes a lot of sense for aerial manipulators, as power and payload are at a premium.  In many cases, it would be foolish to try and squeeze a full 6- or 7-DoF arm onto the underbelly of such a small platform.


—Travis Deyle