Nav: Home

Disney researchers use air-filled modules to grasp, manipulate delicate objects

September 28, 2015

Much like Baymax, the robot star of the animated feature "Big Hero 6," a soft robot skin developed by Disney Research uses air-filled cavities to cushion collisions and to provide the pressure feedback necessary for grasping delicate objects.

The researchers successfully used a pair of 3-D-printed soft skin modules to pick up a disposable plastic cup without breaking it, a roll of printer paper without crushing or creasing it and a piece of tofu without smashing it. Collision tests showed that the inflatable modules reduced the peak force of frontal impacts by 32-52 percent and side impacts by 26-37 percent.

"Humans interacting with robots in everyday environments is no longer just science fiction," said Joohyung Kim, associate research scientist. "Making them soft is particularly important for robots that will interact with children, the elderly, or with patients."

Kim and his Disney colleagues, Katsu Yamane and Alexander Alspach, will present their findings at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2015) on Sept. 28 in Hamburg, Germany.

The air-filled skin modules can absorb unexpected impacts. By monitoring pressure changes that occur when the airtight, but flexible chamber is deformed, it also can serve as a contact sensor, providing feedback for touching, grasping and manipulating.

The researchers built soft skin modules that were cylindrical with hemispheric ends, a little less than 5 inches long and about 2 ½ inches in diameter. In addition to the air-filled outer skin, each module included a rigid link at the center. The modules thus could employ a variety of material properties, from flexible to rigid.

In experiments using only the rigid link, with the outer, inflated skins removed, the researchers were able to use them to grasp a disposable cup. But without the pressure feedback provided by the soft skin, the cup ultimately was crushed. With the soft skins attached, the researchers obtained sufficient pressure feedback to grip the cup, and hold other delicate objects, without damaging them.

The same design concept used to produce the modules can be employed to make other modules of varying geometries, they noted.
-end-
For more information and a video, visit the project Web site at http://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/3d-printed-soft-skin/.

About Disney Research


Disney Research is a network of research laboratories supporting The Walt Disney Company. Its purpose is to pursue scientific and technological innovation to advance the company's broad media and entertainment efforts. Vice Presidents Jessica Hodgins and Markus Gross manage Disney Research facilities in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Zürich, and Boston and work closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Research topics include computer graphics, animation, video processing, computer vision, robotics, wireless & mobile computing, human-computer interaction, displays, behavioral economics, and machine learning.

Disney Research

Related Robots Articles:

Tactile sensor gives robots new capabilities
Eight years ago, Ted Adelson's research group at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) unveiled a new sensor technology, called GelSight, that uses physical contact with an object to provide a remarkably detailed 3-D map of its surface.
Researchers question if banning of 'killer robots' actually will stop robots from killing
A University at Buffalo research team has published a paper that implies that the rush to ban and demonize autonomous weapons or 'killer robots' may be a temporary solution, but the actual problem is that society is entering into a situation where systems like these have and will become possible.
Soft robots that mimic human muscles
An EPFL team is developing soft, flexible and reconfigurable robots.
Team of robots learns to work together, without colliding
When you have too many robots together, they get so focused on not colliding with each other that they eventually just stop moving.
Social robots -- programmable by everyone
The startup LuxAI was created following a research project at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg.
On the path toward molecular robots
Scientists at Hokkaido University have developed light-powered molecular motors that repetitively bend and unbend, bringing us closer to molecular robots.
Gentle strength for robots
A soft actuator using electrically controllable membranes could pave the way for machines that are no danger to humans.
Robots get creative to cut through clutter
Clutter is a special challenge for robots, but new Carnegie Mellon University software is helping robots cope, whether they're beating a path across the moon or grabbing a milk jug from the back of the refrigerator.
Humans can empathize with robots
Toyohashi Tech researchers in cooperation with researchers at Kyoto University have presented the first neurophysiological evidence of humans' ability to empathize with a robot in perceived pain.
Giving robots a more nimble grasp
Engineers at MIT have now hit upon a way to impart more dexterity to simple robotic grippers: using the environment as a helping hand.

Related Robots Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".