The SEAHAND project aims at developing a new paradigm of manipulator for the excavation of deep sea archaeological sites or shipwrecks (up to 2000 meters deep). In this context, we propose to design a mobile adaptive grasper, carried by a very small fully actuated underwater vehicle. This robotic equipment will allow remote manipulation of delicate objects while providing force feedback along all degrees of freedom (including the squeezing force along each finger). The design of the hand and the vehicle will be conducted together by the involved partners, who will have to find suitable technological solutions to the constraints imposed by the force-feedback control approach. The result will be an innovative mobile grasper with which underwater archaeologists will be able to handle very fragile artefacts under very high water pressure (200 bars). The force feedback will allow safe excavation of the objects and will contribute to preserve their integrity.
The joint action of specialists of all concerned fields (design of underwater vehicles and robotics hands, remote manipulation in nuclear environment, control), associated with the expertise of world renowned underwater archaeologists, will make possible the development of a relevant industrial prototype, that will be tested and validated in the field.