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Challenges and Outlook in Robotic Manipulation of Deformable Objects

Jihong Zhu, Andrea Cherubini, Claire Dune, David Navarro-Alarcon, Farshid Alambeigi, Dmitry Berenson, Fanny Ficuciello, Michael Gienger, Kensuke Harada, Jens Kober, Xiang Li, Jia Pan, Wenzhen Yuan, "Challenges and Outlook in Robotic Manipulation of Deformable Objects", Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM), 2022.


Deformable object manipulation (DOM) is an emerging research problem in robotics. The ability to manipulate deformable objects endows robots with higher autonomy and promises new applications in the industrial, services, and healthcare sectors. However, compared to rigid object manipulation, the manipulation of deformable objects is considerably more complex, and is still an open research problem. Addressing DOM challenges demands breakthroughs in almost all aspects of robotics, namely hardware design, sensing, deformation modeling, planning, and control. In this article, we highlight the main challenges that arise by considering deformation and we review recent advances in each sub-field. A particular focus of our paper lies in the discussions of these challenges and in proposing future directions of research.

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