Robotics and Biology Laboratory

Soft Manipulation (SOMA)

© SOMA

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Contact Persons

Oliver Brock  (project coordinator)
Can Erdogan
Előd Páll
Jessica Abele
Vincent Wall
Clemens Eppner
Steffen Puhlmann

Project Description

The main obstacle to a wide-spread adoption of advanced manipulation systems in industry is their complexity, fragility, lack of strength, and difficulty of use. This project describes a path of disruptive innovation for the development of simple, compliant, yet strong, robust, and easy-to-program manipulation systems. The idea is: Soft Manipulation (SoMa). Our partners are:

  • University of Pisa, Research Center "E.Piaggio"
  • Italian Institute of Technology/University of Siena, Siena Robotics and Systems Lab
  • Ocado Technology
  • Disney Research Zurich
  • German Aerospace Center, Biomimetic Robotics and Machine Learning
  • Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Computer Graphics and Digital Fabrication

SoMa explores a new avenue of robotic manipulation with the environment, as opposed to manipulation of or in the environment. In our approach, the physical constraints imposed by objects in the environment and the manipulation itself are not regarded as obstacles, but rather as opportunities to guide functional hand pre-shaping, adaptive grasping, and affordance-guided manipulation of objects. The exploitation of these opportunities, which we refer to as environmental constraints (EC), enables robust grasping and manipulation in dynamic, open, and highly variable environments.

The key ingredient for the exploitation of EC is softness of hands, i.e. their embodied ability to comply and adapt to features of the environment. The traditional paradigm for robotic manipulation is in complete disarray in front of this shift of focus: state-of-the-art grasp planners are targeted towards rigid hands and objects, and attempt to find algorithmic solutions to inherently complex, often ill-posed problems. Further complicating matters, the requirement of planning for soft, uncertain interactions between hand and environment is entirely beyond the state of the art. However, this is how humans most often use their hands, and how we plan to change robotic manipulation. See the current iteration of the RBO Soft Hand.

Funding

The project is funded by European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement 645599. 

Publications

2023

Wall, Vincent; Zöller, Gabriel; Brock, Oliver
Passive and Active Acoustic Sensing for Soft Pneumatic Actuators
The International Journal of Robotics Research, 42 :108-122
2023

2022

Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
A Virtual 2D Tactile Array for Soft Actuators Using Acoustic Sensing
Proceedings of IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
Oktober 2022

2020

Zöller, Gabriel; Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
Active Acoustic Contact Sensing for Soft Pneumatic Actuators
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 7966-7972
Mai 2020

2019

Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
Multi-Task Sensorization of Soft Actuators Using Prior Knowledge
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 9416–9421
Mai 2019

2018

Zöller, Gabriel; Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
Acoustic Sensing for Soft Pneumatic Actuators
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 6986–6991
Oktober 2018
ISBN
978-1-5386-8093-3
Pall, Elod; Sieverling, Arne; Brock, Oliver
Contingent Contact-Based Motion Planning
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 6615–6621
Oktober 2018

2017

Ghazi-Zahedi, Keyan; Deimel, Raphael; Montúfar, Guido; Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
Morphological Computation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 464-469
September 2017
Deimel, Raphael; Irmisch, Patrick; Wall, Vincent; Brock, Oliver
Automated Co-Design of Soft Hand Morphology and Control Strategy for Grasping
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 1213-1218
September 2017
Knoop, Espen; Bächer, Moritz; Wall, Vincent; Deimel, Raphael; Brock, Oliver; Beardsley, Paul
Handshakiness: Benchmarking for Human-Robot Hand Interactions
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 4982-4989
September 2017
Abele, Jessica; Brock, Oliver
First Analysis of Environment Design for Motion Planning with Contact
Juli 2017
Pall, Elod; Sieverling, Arne; Brock, Oliver
Towards Motion Plans That React to Contact Events
RSS workshop: Revisiting Contact - Turning a problem into a solution
Juli 2017
Wall, Vincent; Zöller, Gabriel; Brock, Oliver
A Method for Sensorizing Soft Actuators and Its Application to the RBO Hand 2
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 4965–4970
Mai 2017
Eppner, Clemens; Brock, Oliver
Visual Detection of Opportunities to Exploit Contact in Grasping Using Contextual Multi-Armed Bandits
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 273-278
2017
Sieverling, Arne; Eppner, Clemens; Wolff, Felix; Brock, Oliver
Interleaving Motion in Contact and in Free Space for Planning Under Uncertainty
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 4011-4017
2017
Sieverling, Arne; Eppner, Clemens; Brock, Oliver
Exploiting Contact for Efficient Motion Planning Under Uncertainty
RSS workshop: Revisiting Contact - Turning a problem into a solution
2017

2016

Puhlmann, Steffen; Brock, Oliver; Maertens, Marianne
A Compact Representation of Human Single-Object Grasping
IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Seite 1954-1959
Oktober 2016
Deimel, Raphael; Brock, Oliver
A Novel Type of Compliant and Underactuated Robotic Hand for Dexterous Grasping
The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35 (1-3) :161-185
März 2016

2015

Eppner, Clemens; Deimel, Raphael; Alvarez-Ruiz, Jose; Maertens, Marianne; Brock, Oliver
Exploitation of Environmental Constraints in Human and Robotic Grasping
The International Journal of Robotics Research, 34 (7) :1021-1038
Juni 2015
Puhlmann, Steffen; Eppner, Clemens; Alvarez-Ruiz, Jose; Maertens, Marianne; Brock, Oliver
A Taxonomy of Human Grasping Behavior Suitable for Transfer to Robotic Hands
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 4286-4291
Mai 2015
Eppner, Clemens; Brock, Oliver
Planning Grasp Strategies That Exploit Environmental Constraints
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 4947 - 4952
Mai 2015
Wall, Vincent; Deimel, Raphael; Brock, Oliver
Selective Stiffening of Soft Actuators Based on Jamming
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Seite 252-257
Mai 2015
Deimel, Raphael; Brock, Oliver
Soft Hands for Reliable Grasping Strategies
Kapitel Soft Hands for Reliable Grasping Strategies, Seite 211–221
Herausgeber: Springer-Verlag
2015
211–221

2014

Eppner, Clemens; Brock, Oliver
Planning Grasp Strategies That Exploit Environmental Constraints
September 2014
Deimel, Raphael; Brock, Oliver
A Novel Type of Compliant, Underactuated Robotic Hand for Dexterous Grasping
Robotics:Science and Systems (RSS)
2014

2013

Deimel, Raphael; Eppner, Clemens; Alvarez-Ruiz, Jose; Maertens, Marianne; Brock, Oliver
Exploitation of Environmental Constraints in Human and Robotic Grasping
International Symposium on Robotics Research (ISRR), Seite 1021-1038
Dezember 2013