IIT-Madras Develops Multimodal Robot That Can Climb Pipe, Grasp Objects Like Human

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This new class of robot, called ‘GraspMan,’ has various industrial applications such as pipe inspection and search-and-rescue operations

Called ‘GraspMan,’ the system comprises a pair of graspers that are capable of holding objects securely

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) researchers have developed a multimodal robotic system with good grasping, manipulation and locomotion abilities for use in industrial and field applications.

Called ‘GraspMan,’ the system comprises a pair of graspers that are capable of holding objects securely and manipulate it much like the human hand.

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A prototype of the grasper has been fabricated at the Robotics Laboratory, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, and the experimental results confirm manipulation capabilities of the robot, IIT-Madras said in a statement on Wednesday.

Two such graspers, equipped with the robotic platform provides behavioural adaptation, which is the capability to change the locomotion behaviour to adapt to the environment.

The team behind the GraspMan

The research is being led by Prof Asokan Thondiyath, Robotics Laboratory, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras with his student and Research Scholar Nagamanikandan Govindan. Their recent development has been published in ASME’s reputed peer-reviewed Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics.

According to Prof. Thondiyath, “The motivation behind this research is to realize a robot with a minimalistic design that can overcome the need for task-specific robots that are capable of navigating and manipulating across different environments without increasing the system complexity.”

Apt for industrial applications

This new class of robot developed by the IIT Madras team has various industrial applications such as pipe climbing and inspection, which involves climbing, holding and assembling, all of which are possible in their design, according to the institute.

Machines used in search-and-rescue operations and locomotory applications will also benefit from this robotic platform.

The robotic platform features a multipurpose grasper that is designed to perform complex manipulation and locomotion tasks, without the need for dedicated motors for manipulation, locomotion, and grasping.

“The combination of locomotion and manipulation gives the robot interesting features such as corbiculation (holding an object and walking), non-anthropomorphic walking and brachiation (arm swinging like Baboons),” Govindan said.

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