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Development of the Mechanical and Control Framework for a Minimal Anthropomorphic Prosthetic Hand – MAProHand

Project Description

Supervisors: Prof. Michael A. Saliba +356 2340 2924 (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Project Leader); Prof. Kenneth P. Camilleri (Department of Systems and Control Engineering).

Industrial Partner: Orthopaedic Centre Malta, Gwardamangia, Malta

This project is financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology through FUSION: The R&I Technology Development Programme 2018.

A major issue in the development of commercial prosthetic hands is the trade-off between simplicity, dexterity and usability. If the major focus is on simplicity of the overall mechanical/control system (targeting lower cost and higher reliability), this is likely to result in lower dexterity of the mechanical system, as well as lower usability due to poor control of the prosthesis. If the major focus is on system dexterity (targeting increased capability of the hand), this is likely to result in higher complexity (i.e. lower simplicity), as well as reduced usability due to the difficulties encountered by the user in controlling the complex device. If the major focus is on system usability (targeting ease of use by the amputee), this will likely imply a less dexterous device (i.e. reduced dexterity) and a more complex control system (reduced simplicity). The global prosthetic hand market has to date failed to achieve balance between these three attributes within a single device, and the available products can be starkly listed within three distinct categories: aesthetic prostheses (simplicity); open/close functional devices (usability); or complex, expensive and heavy multi-finger prosthetic hands (dexterity). The primary research objective of this work is to carry out a systematic exercise to seek a practical solution that optimizes this classical trade-off within a single device, by extracting an acceptable and optimum dexterity out of the simplest possible architecture while maintaining high usability of the device. This work builds on previous work carried out at the University of Malta, which has already focussed on preliminary studies of the general trade-off described above; on the development of artificial dexterous hands that include only the essential features of the human hand; and on relating surface electromyography signals on the forearm to finger movement. This work seeks to exploit and extend these results through extensive innovative experimental, analytical, simulation, and design work, to develop a prototype prosthetic hand that is dexterous, relatively simple, light, and convenient to use by the amputee.

A successful candidate will have an academic background either in mechanical engineering, or in electronic engineering, and will preferably be in possession of a Masters degree. Analytical and programming skills are desirable.

Application information can be found at, and applications should be sent to .

For enquiries regarding the application process please contact:
Ms Antoinette Camilleri – +356 2340 3969

The project has funding for two full-time researchers, one with a background in Mechanical Engineering, and one with a background in Electronic Engineering, for a total of 31 months, as detailed below and in the Funding Notes.

Candidates will be employed in the post of Research Support Officer (RSO) II or I, depending on whether or not they are in possession of a Masters degree, and will receive a salary every four weeks commensurate with their post. They will be given the opportunity to read for a PhD degree related to the project from the University of Malta, but will be responsible for paying all application and tuition fees (excluding bench fees) related to their studies.

The posts are open to EU, UK and international applicants.

Funding Notes

Each post is for an initial period of 12 months, which may be renewed for a further year. The initial annual salary is €20,800 (RSO-I) or €24,960 (RSO-II), rising to €21,840 (RSO-I) or €26,000 (RSO-II) in the second year in the event of contract renewal. Following these two years there may be a fresh call for applications, by the industrial partner, for two full-time researchers to continue work on the MAProHand project for a further seven months, under conditions similar to those of the university employment. The full-time Research Support Officers will be eligible to apply for these posts.

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