Yan-Bin Jia receives NSF Grant to investigate robot grasping of deformable objects

July 22, 2009

Professor Yan-Bin Jia has received from the US National Science Foundation a 3-year, $369,795 grant IIS-0915876 for designing algorithms that would enable the robot hand to grasp deformable objects. 

Deformable objects are ubiquitous in our daily life. The ability to manipulate them is an important measure of the robot's intelligence and dexterity. This project investigates several fundamental issues related to robot grasping of deformable objects (which has remained an underdeveloped research area): (i) efficient and interactive modeling of grasp formation; (ii) analysis and synthesis of two-finger squeeze grasps with understanding of the role of elasticity; (iii) resistance to and absorption of external forces; and (iv) sensing and force control for grasp achievement. A graphical interface called GraspDeform is under development not only for simulation purpose, but also to assist the design, evaluation, and implementation of grasping strategies over a robot platform. 

Yan-Bin and his research group hope to acquire in-depth understanding about the geometry and mechanics of grasping in the presence of deformation, by examining issues like contact, strain energy, elasticity constants, and friction. The project intends to demonstrate that a robot hand can reliably grasp various deformable objects. Results are expected to considerably widen up research on manipulation of deformable objects, influence deformable modeling in computer graphics, and have potential applications in medical and home robotics. They will be disseminated to the research community via the development of an interactive website on deformable grasping.