The objective of the MANIMAT project (dexterous MANIpulation with active and soft MATerials) is to provide a solution to the scientific and technological challenge of obtaining a soft gripper adapted simultaneously to the versatility of object grasping with passive shape adaptation and to the modification of the object configuration from inside the gripper.
Indeed, with the evolution of service and industrial robotics, the requirements related to grasping are increasingly complex and go beyond simple clamping, which is sufficient in contexts where the environment and elements handled are mastered. With soft grippers, the scientific community is looking for maximum object grasping versatility. However, this type of gripper is currently not well suited for dexterous manipulation, i.e. the ability to control the position and orientation of objects during handling.
Our solution provides an answer to this challenge based on the following two hypotheses: (i) possibility of synthesizing a soft finger having a type of controllable bending adapted to dexterous manipulation and exerting sufficient contact forces, (ii) development from this finger of a multi-digital gripper having the necessary mobilities between the fingers and the palm. The methodology develops an integrated approach combining active and soft materials, robot design, advanced manufacturing and control, which are the partners' areas of expertise. Fluidic elastomers, electroactive polymers, and shape memory materials are considered in this project, their partial or complete combination enabling to bring advantages for the expected performances. During the project, we build innovative fast computational models that account for the behaviour of soft structures incorporating active materials. These models are necessary to design and manufacture, following a “multi-material” approach, the external shape and the internal arrangement of the finger and gripper. In addition, they must be integrated in the dexterous manipulation-based control architecture for articulated multi-axes systems already developed by the consortium. Manufacturing tests of representative samples of active materials - flexible envelopes combinations are also carried out to establish rules for multi-material design and manufacturing. The self-sensing property of active materials is also investigated and implemented. The project is discretized into four main work packages: multi-material design, multi-material fabrication, modular design, and experimental evaluation. It brings together teams from the Institut Pascal, ICube and Pprime laboratories.
The areas that can benefit from the project's outcomes are the robotic design using a multi-material approach, the modelling of smart materials for fast calculation, the applications of Artificial Intelligence on the modelling and optimisation of materials and robotic structures, the multi-material manufacturing, and the control of soft robots for grasping. The scientific approach adopted is transferable to other types of robotic devices.
Monsieur Frédéric Chapelle (INSTITUT PASCAL)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
ICube Laboratoire des sciences de l'Ingénieur, de l'Informatique et de l'Imagerie (UMR 7357)
IP INSTITUT PASCAL
Pprime Institut P' : Recherche et Ingénierie en Matériaux, Mécanique et Energétique
Help of the ANR 488,548 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2021 - 48 Months