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Flip the Unmanageable

An origami-based modular, reconfigurable sensorized surface for soft object manipulation.

V1, 2022


Serhat Demirtas
Ziqiao Wang
Matteo Lo Preti
Antoni Jubés

Layer-by-layer manufactured origami parts including fiberglass, polyimide, and adhesive; servo motors, 3D printed PLA connectors, acrylic sheet surface.

Traditional manipulators need a priori information about their targets, such as shape and stiffness, to perform accurate control when dealing with delicate objects. Yet, it is a real challenge to obtain this information safely by probing fragile items. Imagine how hard it is to know the stiffness of a piece of pudding in advance.

We present a general-purpose, reconfigurable, modular surface based on origami robotics for manipulating delicate objects, no matter their shape! A reconfigurable surface with two modules, each having 3-DOF,  demonstrates manipulation tasks by flipping, rotating, and translating a “fish”. Our reconfigurable surface can handle items challenging for their irregular shape and texture.

This surface is the first-step towards a manipulation world not confined to robotic arms. For long-distance transportation, it may also lighten workers from repetitive and arduous work.

Further beyond! We are endowing our surfaces with a sensorized soft layer. It will enhance their environmental adaptation by gathering information autonomously.  This way, it will be able to interact with objects of various shapes, stiffnesses, and sizes. From perceiving to autonomously adapting, it’s a short step. Our surface will learn how to change its configuration and flexibility to cope with unpredictable external environments and unknown challenges.  Applied to the produce industry, it promises a greener future by eliminating the requirement.


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