University of Minnesota
University Relations
myU OneStop

Go to unit's home.

Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

The Idea of a Hand


Matthew Mason
Robotics and Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Director of the Robotics Institute

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
3:30 p.m. reception
4:00 p.m. lecture

401/402 Walter Library

View webcast of this seminar

MasonFor about fifty years robotics researchers have been designing and using robot hands. The designs vary dramatically in complexity, from a simple pair of tongs to a hand with complexity approaching the human hand in some respects. Often there is no precise problem specification — we would like our robots to do many things, with many objects, in many contexts. Fortunately we can draw inspiration from prior work: animal hands and claws, human hands, tools, prosthetic hands, teleoperated devices, and previous robotic hands. Out of a bewildering variety of designs, it is possible to identify a few guiding ideas, different theories of manipulation, giving rise to different designs. This talk explores the central competing ideas of robot hand design, and describes the speaker's recent work on "simple but general" hands.


Matthew T. Mason earned the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at MIT, finishing his PhD in 1982. Since that time he has been on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is presently Professor of Robotics and Computer Science, and Director of the Robotics Institute. His prior work includes force control, automated assembly planning, mechanics of pushing and grasping, automated parts orienting and feeding, and mobile robotics. He is co-author of Robot Hands and the Mechanics of Manipulation (MIT Press 1985), co-editor of Robot Motion: Planning and Control (MIT Press 1982), and author of Mechanics of Robotic Manipulation (MIT Press 2001). He is a Fellow of the AAAI, and a Fellow of the IEEE. He is a winner of the System Development Foundation Prize and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society's Pioneer Award.