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Soft robotic gripper with compliant cell stacks for industrial part handling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6821-6828
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

Robot object grasping and handling requires accurate grasp pose estimation and gripper/end-effector design, tailored to individual objects. When object shape is unknown, cannot be estimated, or is highly complex, parallel grippers can provide insufficient grip. Compliant grippers can circumvent these issues through the use of soft or flexible materials that adapt to the shape of the object. This letter proposes a 3D printable soft gripper design for handling complex shapes. The compliant properties of the gripper enable contour conformation, yet offer tunable mechanical properties (i.e., directional stiffness). Objects that have complex shape, such as non-constant curvature, convex and/or concave shape can be grasped blind (i.e., without grasp pose estimation). The motivation behind the gripper design is handling of industrial parts, such as jet and Diesel engine components. (Dis)assembly, cleaning and inspection of such engines is a complex, manual task that can benefit from (semi-)automated robotic handling. The complex shape of each component, however, limits where and how it can be grasped. The proposed soft gripper design is tunable by compliant cell stacks that deform to the shape of the handled object. Individual compliant cells and cell stacks are characterized and a detailed experimental analysis of more than 600 grasps with seven different industrial parts evaluates the approach.