Topological representation of cloth state for robot manipulation

Journal Article (2021)


Autonomous Robots





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Forty years ago the notion of configuration space (C-space) revolutionised robot
motion planning for rigid and articulated objects. Despite great progress, handling
deformable materials has remained elusive because of their infinite-dimensional
shape-state space, and finding low-complexity representations has become a
pressing research goal. This work tries to make a tiny step in this direction by
proposing a state representation for textiles relying on the C-space of some
distinctive points. A stratification of the C-space Conf_n(R^2) for n points in the
cloth is derived from that of the flag manifold, and topological techniques to determine
adjacencies in manipulation-centred state graphs are developed. Their algorithmic
implementation permits obtaining cloth state-space representations of different
granularities and tailored to particular purposes. An example of their usage to
distinguish between cloth states having different manipulation affordances is provided,
and ways in which the proposed state graphs can serve as a common ground to link
the perception, planning and manipulation of textiles are suggested.


feature extraction, intelligent robots, manipulators, pose estimation, service robots.

Author keywords

Configuration space, Deformable objects, Cloth state, Topological representation, Stratification

Scientific reference

F. Strazzeri and C. Torras. Topological representation of cloth state for robot manipulation. Autonomous Robots, 45: 737–754, 2021.