Cloth Grasp Point Detection based on Multiple-View Geometric Cues with Application to Robotic Towel Folding

Jeremy Maitin-Shepard, Marco Cusumano-Towner, Jinna Lei and Pieter Abbeel

(To be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2010)

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We present a novel vision-based grasp point detection algorithm that can reliably detect the corners of a piece of cloth, using only geometric cues that are robust to variation in texture. Furthermore, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithm in the context of folding a towel using a general-purpose two-armed mobile robotic platform without the use of specialized end-effectors or tools. The robot begins by picking up a randomly dropped towel from a table, goes through a sequence of vision-based re-grasps and manipulations---partially in the air, partially on the table---and finally stacks the folded towel in a target location. The reliability and robustness of our algorithm enables for the first time a robot with general purpose manipulators to reliably and fully-autonomously fold previously unseen towels, demonstrating success on all 50 out of 50 single-towel trials as well as on a pile of 5 towels.


We give warm thanks to our collaborators at Willow Garage for giving us the opportunity to work with their robotic platform and for their valuable input during our experiments.