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From robots to humans: prosthetics for All

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SoftHand is a novel robotic hand combining the principles of soft robotics and postural human synergies to achieve a simple and effective implementation of the human functional and structural anthropomorphism in prosthetics aids. Originally developed for the industry by the Italian Institute of Technology and the “E. Piaggio” Research Center of University of Pisa, the SoftHand is becoming a prosthesis thanks to SoftPro, a H2020 research project. Thirty prosthetic users are currently testing it in 4 academic and rehabilitation centres around the world, to improve design, dexterity, and fitness to myoelectric prosthetic users. The latest design of the hand is smaller and lighter while keeping its merits: simplicity, due to the presence of one only motor; compliance, strength and robustness, thanks to its intrinsic softness and its human-like (19 degrees of freedom) architecture. The team involves a designer - who is also a tester - to improve design by considering also its social and aesthetic impact. Sustainability is a core issue of this research to present the market a robotic prosthetic hand with an affordable price; this goal has important socio-economical aspects. The paper will analyse market scenarios and competitors. The integration of contaminations coming from the Design and Humanities in the research flow is fundamental to explore the relationship between prosthetic appearance and social sustainability, which already achieve novel and unique self-interaction capabilities.

Authors: Maria Rosanna Fossati, Manuel Giuseppe Catalano, Giorgio Grioli, Antonio Bicchi

Additional Info

  • Topics of presentation: Design for Sustainable Materials and Energy
  • Venue: Italy


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