Distributed manipulation with airflow

Distributed manipulation systems induce motions on objects through the application of forces at many points. We design innovative airflow-based distributed systems able to perform contactless transport of fragile or clean objects such as silicon wafers, LCD panels and solar cells. At the opposite of devices dedicated to one task and motion, we propose a modular approach based on simple unidirectional modules that can be assembled together to form the desired function. This approach allows cost reduction and the making of various and large conveyors.

There are many fundamental issues involved in distributed manipulation with airflow. The physics of interactions between the flow and the object is essential to predict objet motions, and, since an airflow manipulator has many air jets, distributed control strategies must be considered to effectively manipulate objects in the 3 degree-of-freedom of the plane.   

Our expertise

  • Physical modeling of airflow/object interactions
  • Manipulation simulation and prediction of object motion
  • Feedback control of airflow manipulators

Selected publications

Modular Contact-Free Conveyors for Handling Planar Fragile Objects
V. Guelpa, G. J. Laurent, B. Dahroug & N. Le Fort-Piat (2016), IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

A survey of non-prehensile pneumatic manipulation surfaces: principles, models and control
G. J. Laurent & H. Moon (2015), Intelligent Service Robotics, Springer, 8(3):151-163.

Design, modeling and control of a modular contactless wafer handling system
B. Dahroug, G. J. Laurent, V. Guelpa & N. Le Fort-Piat (2015), Proc. of the IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Best Automation Paper Award, pp. 976-981.

Micropositioning and Fast Transport Using a Contactless Micro-Conveyor
G. J. Laurent, A. Delettre, R. Zeggari, R. Yahiaoui, J.-F. Manceau & N. Le Fort-Piat (2014), Micromachines, 5(1):66-80.

A new concept of planar self-reconfigurable modular robot for conveying microparts
B. Piranda, G. J. Laurent, J. Bourgeois, C. Clévy, S. Möbes & N. Le Fort-Piat (2013), IFAC Mechatronics, 23(7):906-915.

Robust control of a planar manipulator for flexible and contactless handling
A. Delettre, G. J. Laurent, Y. Haddab & N. Le Fort-Piat (2012), Mechatronics, pp. 852-861.

3-DOF potential air flow manipulation by inverse modeling control
A. Delettre, G. J. Laurent, N. Le Fort-Piat & C. Varnier (2012), Proc. of the IEEE Int. Conf. on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE'12), pp. 926-931.

A new aerodynamic traction principle for handling products on an air cushion
G. J. Laurent, A. Delettre & N. Le Fort-Piat (2011), IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO), 27(2):379-384.

Designing decentralized controllers for distributed-air-jet MEMS-based micromanipulators by reinforcement learning
L. Matignon, G. J. Laurent, N. Le Fort-Piat & Yves-André Chapuis (2010), Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems 59(2):145-166.


Guillaume Laurent, Associate Professor