Robotic Origami Folding

Devin Balkcom, Carnegie Mellon University


Robots can outperform humans in some tasks for which strength or repeatable precision are required. However, the domain of tasks for which robots are applicable remains small; one area that is particularly challenging is the manipulation of flexible objects.

Origami, the human art of complex paper manipulation, is an exciting focal problem for the field of robotic manipulation. An origami design can be described as a flexible closed chain with a large number of degrees of freedom – the type of system that is most difficult for a robot to manipulate. At the same time, the goals of origami folding are well-defined. There is a rich mathematical literature describing what designs can be folded, and observations of human ‘origamists’ can provide hints at how to fold.

Through an exploration of origami folding, my thesis will give insight and provide a partial solution to some very hard manipulation problems. The poster will present some of my preliminary results, including an exploration of the skills required, and video of a robot folding simple origami will also be available.

Abstract Author(s): Devin Balkcom