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CurviPicker: a continuum robot for pick-and-place tasks

Zhixiong Yang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University – UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Shanghai, China)
Bin Zhao (Shanghai Jiao Tong University – UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Shanghai, China)
Liang Bo (Shanghai Jiao Tong University – UM-SJTU Joint Institute, Shanghai, China)
Xiangyang Zhu (School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Kai Xu (School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 5 June 2019

Issue publication date: 14 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Pick-and-place tasks are common across many industrial sectors, and many rigid-linked robots have been proposed for this application. This paper aims to alternatively present the development of a continuum robot for low-load medium-speed pick-and-place tasks.

Design/methodology/approach

An inversion of a previously proposed dual continuum mechanism, as a key design element, was used to realize the horizontal movements of the CurviPicker’s end effector. A flexible shaft was inserted to realize rotation and translation about a vertical axis. The design concept, kinematics, system descriptions and proof-of-concept experimental characterizations are elaborated.

Findings

Experimental characterizations show that the CurviPicker can achieve satisfactory accuracy after motion calibration. The CurviPicker is easy to control due to its simple kinematics, while its structural compliance makes it safe to work with, as well as less sensitive to possible target picking position errors to avoid damaging itself or the to-be-picked objects.

Research limitations/implications

The vertical translation of the CurviPicker is currently realized by moving the flexible shaft. Insertion of the flexible shaft introduces possible disturbances. It is desired to explore other form of variations to use structural deformation to realize the vertical translation.

Practical implications

The proposed CurviPicker realizes the Schöenflies motions via a simple structure. Such a robot can be used to increase robot presence and automation in small businesses for low-load medium-speed pick-and-place tasks.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the CurviPicker is the first continuum robot designed and constructed for pick-and-place tasks. The originality stems from the concept, kinematics, development and proof-of-concept experimental characterizations of the CurviPicker.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Research funding: This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91648103, Grant No. 51722507 and Grant No. 51435010), and in part by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0110800).

Citation

Yang, Z., Zhao, B., Bo, L., Zhu, X. and Xu, K. (2019), "CurviPicker: a continuum robot for pick-and-place tasks", Assembly Automation, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 410-421. https://doi.org/10.1108/AA-12-2017-187

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited