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I am looking to build an adaptable robotic arm with under-actuated three (or four) fingered hands. Before I start shelling out money, I want to test my prototypes in a simulator which would ideally

  • allow me to try out various actuators, and also possibly a tactile sensor (like a pressure sensitive resistor or a pressure sensitive conductive sheet).
  • simulate different environments and tasks like gripping various shapes, sizes, weights etc.
  • be able to talk to an external learning/inference programs for the adaptive part (which, I think, goes under the name 'Dexterous Manipulation Planning' tasks), with sensory feedback from tactile sensors within the simulator and also camera input from a separate module.

What are my options for such a simulator, including those that only partially address my requirements above?

A bit about my background: I dont have any recent experience in building electronics hardware projects, although I have experienced it as part of my labs during electronics engineering under-graduation, a field that I have left a long time back. I am just a wannabe hobbyist now.

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For designing you can use Solidworks. And for simple simulation use Solidworks Simulation with Solidworks Motion Analysis. You can import/export data from/to MatLab or various other programs. Sensors and actuator can be placed on arbitrary points to sense the stress, displacement, etc. Use solidworks to test and improve the design.

Another very good simulator is Webots 8. Check out their movies section as there is a gripper similar to what you are looking for.

There are various other softwares for simulation according to this link.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the helpful pointers! My university does not provide Webots and SolidWorks for students. Can the design part be substituted with AutoDesk? I can get a free student version for these (I am looking at Inventor Professional and AutoCAD Electrical). My university also provides Simulink,SimMechanics and SimScape. Would it work for (design and) simulation? I haven't researched on how effective Sim products are for mechanical design, but they do allow importing design files from AutoDesk. $\endgroup$ – GuSuku Dec 2 '14 at 19:25

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