Employing Multi-Layer, Sensorised Kirigami Grippers for Single-Grasp Based Identification of Objects and Force Exertion Estimation

Soft robotic devices have been popular in handling intricate grasping and dexterous manipulation tasks, serving as an alternative to conventional, rigid end-effectors. These devices are relatively simple, lightweight, and cost-effective. Recently, kirigami based structures have been used to create low-cost and disposable soft robotic grippers and hands. These grippers undergo a complex post-contact reconfiguration and conform to an object’s shape and size during grasping. In this paper, we explore this new class of soft robotic grippers by utilising them for single-grasp object classification and grasping force estimation. We install simplistic sensors on both the gripper and the actuation system to estimate the state of the kirigami gripper, and the collected data features are employed to train Random Forest models for identifying the grasped object. The classifier trained exhibits a high accuracy of 98% in discriminating objects of various shapes. When handling food items, the classifier achieves an accuracy of 94%, while in classifying transparent objects, the classifier obtained again a high accuracy of 97%. Finally, object-specific force estimation models are triggered based on the classification decision of the Random Forest model to estimate the grasping force exerted by the gripper. These positive outcomes demonstrate the kirigami based robotic gripper’s potential for object classification in a variety of circumstances, particularly where vision systems are not available or not reliable.