Control of robot for the separation of a single fabric from a stack and its transport to the following handing stage, achieved through artificial intelligence methods (Zoumbonos, 2011)


The apparel industry is still mainly based on manual labor. The main reason for the automation delay is the fact that fabrics are bodies that present very low bending rigidity, and as a result they are easily deformed. Fabrics also present a great variety of structures and properties. These facts deter the development of reliable and flexible robotic handling systems. In this thesis a method for the separation and capture of a piece of fabric from a stack is presented, based on air flow over the stack. The difference in static pressure, caused by the flow, lifts the upper piece of the fabric, while the turbulent nature of the flow separates it from its underlying pieces. Two systems are developed for the determination of the trajectory of the end-effector of a robot, for the realization of the simple laying task of a piece of fabric on a work table. These systems are based on soft computing, and particularly on fuzzy logic, and any additional apparatuses or the knowledge of many mechanical properties of the fabrics are not required. The task of folding a piece of fabric on a work table is investigated and three stages are introduced, in which the folding task can be decomposed in order to reduce the complexity of the robot controller development. Each stage is explained and the shape characteristics that are selected in order to describe the shape of the fabric for each stage are presented. A method for the extraction of the selected characteristics from two vision sensors is introduced, which is based on variable image segmentation. The calibration of the vision sensors is also presented. A strategy is developed for the folding of rectangular pieces of fabric based on fuzzy logic with vision feedback. The indirect fuzzy controller is trained via trial-and-error and provides the variable gains of a P-controller. The system presents flexibility and reliability for the fabrics that satisfy the restrictions that have been set. Finally, a strategy for the control of the true folding stage is presented, according to which two separate subsystems determine the target state of the fabric and lead the fabric towards that state, increasing thus the flexibility of the system. The methods that are developed in this thesis can be the stepping stone for the introduction of reliable and flexible automation schemes for the realization of some of the apparel industry tasks that are still labor intensive.