Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Donald S. Gelosh, PhD


The focus of this research was on the implementation of a forward kinematic algorithm for the Utah MIT Dexterous Hand (UMDH). Specifically, the algorithm was synthesized from mathematical models onto a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) processor. This approach is different from the classical, general purpose microprocessor design where all robotic controller functions including forward Kinematics are executed serially from a compiled programming language such as C. The compiled code and subsequent real time operating system must be stored on some form of nonvolatile memory, typically magnetic media such as a fixed or hard disk drive, along with other computer hardware components to allow the user to load and execute the software. With a future goal of moving the controllers to a portable platform like a dexterous prosthetic hand for amputee patients, the application of such a hardware implementation is impossible. Instead, this research explores a different implementation based on a modular approach of dedicated hardware controllers. The controller for the forward kinematics of the UMDH is used as a test case. The resulting FPGA processor replaces a robotic system's burden of repetitive and discrete software system calls with a stand alone hardware interface that appears more like a single hardware function call. The robotic system is free to tackle other tasks while the FPGA processor is busy computing the results of the algorithm.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number