An Integrated Design Pipeline for Tactile Sensing Robotic Manipulators




Lara Zlokapa, Yiyue Luo, Jie Xu, Michael Foshey, Kui Wu, Pulkit Agrawal, and Wojciech Matusik


Traditional robotic manipulator design methods require extensive, time-consuming, and manual trial and error to produce a viable design. During this process, engineers often spend their time redesigning or reshaping components as they discover better topologies for the robotic manipulator. Tactile sensors, while useful, often complicate the design due to their bulky form factor. We propose an integrated design pipeline to streamline the design and manufacturing of robotic manipulators with knitted, glove-like tactile sensors. The proposed pipeline allows a designer to assemble a collection of modular, open-source components by applying predefined graph grammar rules. The end result is an intuitive design paradigm that allows the creation of new virtual designs of manipulators in a matter of minutes. Our framework allows the designer to fine-tune the manipulator’s shape through cage-based geometry deformation. Finally, the designer can select surfaces for adding tactile sensing. Once the manipulator design is finished, the program will automatically generate 3D printing and knitting files for manufacturing. We demonstrate the utility of this pipeline by creating four custom manipulators tested on real-world tasks: screwing in a wing screw, sorting water bottles, picking up an egg, and cutting paper with scissors.



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