Robotics: Science and Systems XVI

Cable Manipulation with a Tactile-Reactive Gripper

Siyuan Dong, Shaoxiong Wang, Yu She, Neha Sunil, Alberto Rodriguez, Edward Adelson


Cables are complex, high dimensional, and dynamic objects. Standard approaches to manipulate them often rely on conservative strategies that involve long series of very slow and incremental deformations, or various mechanical fixtures such as clamps, pins or rings. We are interested in manipulating freely moving cables, in real time, with a pair of robotic grippers, and with no added mechanical constraints. The main contribution of this paper is a perception and control framework that moves in that direction, and uses real-time tactile feedback to accomplish the task of following a dangling cable. The approach relies on a vision-based tactile sensor, GelSight, that estimates the pose of the cable in the grip, and the friction forces during cable sliding. We achieve the behavior by combining two tactile-based controllers: 1) Cable grip controller, where a PD controller combined with a leaky integrator regulates the gripping force to maintain the frictional sliding forces close to a suitable value; and 2) Cable pose controller, where an LQR controller based on a learned linear model of the cable sliding dynamics keeps the cable centered and aligned on the fingertips to prevent the cable from falling from the grip. This behavior is possible by a reactive gripper fitted with GelSight-based high-resolution tactile sensors. The robot can follow one meter of cable in random configurations within 2-3 hand regrasps, adapting to cables of different materials and thicknesses. We demonstrate a robot grasping a headphone cable, sliding the fingers to the jack connector, and inserting it. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first implementation of real-time cable following without the aid of mechanical fixtures.



    AUTHOR    = {Siyuan Dong AND Shaoxiong Wang AND Yu She AND Neha Sunil AND Alberto Rodriguez AND Edward Adelson}, 
    TITLE     = {{Cable Manipulation with a Tactile-Reactive Gripper}}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2020}, 
    ADDRESS   = {Corvalis, Oregon, USA}, 
    MONTH     = {July}, 
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2020.XVI.029}