Manipulation Enhancement through Robotic Guidance and Intelligent Novel Grippers


MERGING will deliver a turnkey robotic solution to automate handling of flexible and fragile objects.

Our ambition is to provide manufacturers with an end-to-end solution to automate the handling of soft objects. The solution will consist of a multi-finger gripper equipped with an electro-adhesive skin that conforms to the objects to handle even delicate fabrics or components without any damage. Electro-adhesion increases the direct gripping forces and thus allows greatly reduced clamping forces. Our solution includes perception and supervision functions to adapt the system's behaviour in real time to the execution conditions and for robot system programming accessible to non-specialists.

Our main motivations are to build a versatile, easy-to-use and low-cost system. To demonstrate this and the possibilities of scaling up, we will design our system using proven laboratory technologies (TRL 4), then carry out proof of concept in realistic environments (TRL 6) in three different applications and sectors: fabric handling for lingerie manufacturing, technical fiber handling for composite bus panel manufacturing, plastic bag handling for the food industry.

MERGING is a three and a half year project involving the entire value chain of soft object gripping automation. The CEA leads the project and provides the robotic technologies in collaboration with EPFL (electrical adhesion), AIMEN (perception), LMS (supervision), and SHADOW (capture) and IPC (materials). CEA, EPFL, AIMEN and LMS will respectively use AI technologies for robotic demonstration programming, electro-adhesive skin control, perception and control of the complete system. SELMARK, VDL and THIMONNIER introduce cases of use of fabric, composite and polymer handling respectively. CASP and ACTEMIUM are respectively responsible for the software and hardware integration and the exploitation of the results. SHADOW will release the pliers with electro-adhesive skin after the end of the project.

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Start date: 01-11-2019
End date: 30-04-2023
Total budget - Public funding: 7 926 712,00 Euro - 7 926 712,00 Euro
Call topic: Handling systems for flexible materials (RIA) (DT-FOF-12-2019)
Twitter: @mergingproject
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