Robotic hand created to help plate your food

Posted: 12 January 2023 | | No comments yet

Researchers have created a robotic gripper that they claim can scoop, pick and grasp a wide range of consumer items.


Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s (SUTD) Bio-Inspired Robotics and Design Laboratory have developed a new reconfigurable workspace soft (RWS) robotic gripper that they claim can scoop, pick and grasp a wide range of consumer items.

From tiny grains of rice to a water bottle, researchers state that the robotic hand can pick and place items safely and reliably to meet the dynamic demands of food, logistics and consumer goods industries.

What’s more, the researchers have highlighted the gripper’s “comprehensive and adaptive capabilities” that can be used in logistics and food industries so they can use robotic automation to meet increasing demands through efficiently picking an packaging items.

According to researchers, the RWS gripper can scoop rice or couscous with radii as small as 1.5 millimeters or pick items as thin as 300 microns such as business cards or thin instruction manuals from flat surfaces. Additionally, they say it can grasp large convex, nonconvex, and deformable items such as melons, cereal boxes, or detergent refill bags which can weigh up to 1.4kg.

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Compared to traditional rigid grippers, the researchers claim that soft grippers use compliant soft actuators and functional hyper elastic materials, allowing them to grasp a wider range of geometries safely and reliably. In addition, soft grippers’ high degrees of freedom and compliance enable several grasp modes despite under actuation and oversimplified control strategies.

The research team designed the RWS gripper using multimodal actuation, whereby the grasping workspace of a soft gripper can be changed rapidly for payloads with different contact area requirements.

Looking to make the gripper available worldwide, the SUTD research team is taking steps to commercialise the RWS grippers in various high-mix automation applications.

“We are in discussions with various logistics companies, both in the food and packaging sectors, to set up proof of value studies. The team is excited to create market impact and provide new solutions for our industry partners,” said Assistant Professor Pablo Valdivia y Alvarado, Principal Investigator and Team Lead from SUTD.

Their research study titled ‘A Multimodal, Reconfigurable Workspace Soft Gripper for Advanced Grasping Tasks’ was published in Soft Robotics.

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