Soft robots with just the right amount gripping force
Human intelligence has always been associated with the use of tools. It is also a problem that robotics must solve. Machines are still unable to exert the correct amount of force in order to control tools which are not rigidly attached to them.
Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in collaboration with Toyota Research Institute, have developed a system to grasp tools and apply appropriate force for a task, such as squeegeeing liquid up or writing a word out with a pencil.
The system, called Series Elastic End Effectors (SEED), uses embedded cameras and soft bubble grippers to map the deformation of grippers over a six-dimensional area. The object can be moved up and down, left and right, back and forth and roll, pitch and yaw using six degrees of freedom. Closed-loop control, a self-regulating system which maintains the desired state without the need for human intervention, uses SEED and tactile feedback to adjust robot arm position to apply desired force.