Automatic 3-D Manipulation of Soft Objects by Robotic Arms with an Adaptive Deformation Model

David Navarro Alarcon, Hiu Man Yip, Zerui Wang, Yun Hui Liu, Fangxun Zhong, Tianxue Zhang, Peng Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we present a new feedback method to automatically servo-control the 3-D shape of soft objects with robotic manipulators. The soft object manipulation problem has recently received a great deal of attention from robotics researchers because of its potential applications in, e.g., food industry, home robots, medical robotics, and manufacturing. A major complication to automatically control the shape of an object is the estimation of its deformation properties, which determines how the manipulator's motion actively transforms into deformations. Note that these properties are rarely known beforehand, and its offline parametric identification is difficult and/or impractical to conduct in many applications. To cope with this issue, we developed a new algorithm that computes in real time the unknown deformation parameters of a soft object; this algorithm provides a valuable adaptive behavior to the deformation controller, something we cannot achieve with traditional fixed-model approaches. In contrast with most controllers in the literature, our new method can explicitly servo-control 3-D deformations (and not just 2-D image projections) in an entirely model-free way. To validate the proposed adaptive controller, we present a detailed experimental study with robotic manipulators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7429768
Pages (from-to)429-441
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive control
  • deformable models
  • robots manipulators
  • shape control
  • Visual servoing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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