In May, we won the cloth folding competition at ICRA 2023. We were the only team who completed all three tasks of the competition.

Remko, Victor, Thomas, Andreas and Francis went to ICRA 2023 to discuss their work on cloth folding.

Cloth folding competition

At ICRA, IRI organised the cloth manipulation competition, which is part of the 7th Robotic Grasping and Manipulation Competition.

Some action pictures of the competition at ICRA.

What we demonstrated

The competition consists of unfolding and folding rectangular clothes from the Household Cloth Object Set. We received this set of cloth from IRI. The competition consisted of three parts:

  • Grasp point detection: Selecting a suitable grasping point on a cloth.
  • Unfolding: Grasping the cloth and manipulating it until it is placed flat on the table.
  • Folding: Folding the cloth on the table following the folding protocol.

And we were the only team who could complete all three tasks.

Our approach consisted of well-design motion primitives, a robust keypoint detector which was trained on synthetic data only and a custom gripper with infrared-based tactile sensor technology. The gripper design and the unfolding procedure UnfoldIR has been accepted recently by IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RAL) and will be presented at ICRA 2024 by Remko!

From cloth folding to your business

In automation, specific machines are built to automate a very specific task within narrowly defined boundaries. With the collaborative robots of our cloth folding demo, we can move those boundaries and broaden the scope. We focus on collaborative robot solutions for businesses that perform (1) heterogeneous tasks with (2) heterogeneous objects in (3) heterogeneous environments by learning task execution. This form of learned manipulation allows businesses to save costs and relieve employees from repetitious tasks and let them focus on value-added activities requiring a human operator.

Contact Andreas Verleysen if you want to discuss how we can help you with an explorative study and or proof-of-concept collaborative robot setup that come with customer-specific software and documentation in the context of your business.