Researchers Develop New Technique for Moving Objects with Airflow

By: | May 6th, 2024

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Aalto University’s Innovative Approach

Researchers at Aalto University have made a breakthrough in object manipulation using a novel approach: controlled airflow. Their research paves the way for contactless object movement by machines, potentially granting robots a new skill.

While wind has always been a force moving objects around us, this new technique allows for precise control. Unlike a leaf blower simply scattering leaves, this method uses a directed jet of air to maneuver objects along predetermined paths.

This advancement enables the manipulation of objects from a distance as well as holds promise for incorporation into robotic systems, effectively granting machines an intangible form of manipulation akin to fingers.

“We can move objects in various directions, even backward towards the air nozzle,” explains Professor Quan Zhou, who led the study. “The key is understanding how airflow interacts with different objects.”

Redefining Object Movement

The researchers achieved this by meticulously studying how objects move in artificially generated airflow. They captured thousands of data points to create a model that predicts object behavior under air jets. This model then informs an algorithm that controls a motorized air nozzle, precisely directing the airflow to achieve the desired movement.

This technology has the potential to be highly versatile. The researchers successfully moved objects of various shapes and materials, along simple paths like circles or even more complex, letter-like trajectories.

The contactless manipulation offered by this method holds promise for several applications. It could be integrated into robots, allowing them to handle delicate objects or operate in hazardous environments. It could also be used in sterile settings or for manipulating hazardous materials.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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