MIT and princeton engineers just made the most monotonous topic on earth — the act of picking something out of a bin — a lot cooler. their robotic picker-upper runs an ‘object agnostic grasping algorithm,’ every time it begins its epic journey of tedious lifting. it’s packed with a custom gripper and a suction cup.

MIT robot picker
all images courtesy of melanie gonick/MIT



let’s say there’s an item in a bin: a toothbrush. but that toothbrush at the bottom of the bin is also surrounded by a bottle of pills and a tiny ceramic jar of ashes. this robot arm is capable of descending into that bin of items, locating the toothbrush and grabbing it, exactly the way a toothbrush needs to be grabbed. it can then finish the job — grabbing and sorting the bottle of pills and the little jar of ashes, safely-according to the algorithm that MIT and princeton has created.

MIT robot picker
elliott donlon (left) and francois hogan (right) work with the robotic system



once out of the bin, cameras snap some pics of the toothbrush from various angles. now, the robot can now store the toothbrush into its perfect, robot memory, and place the item in a new bin with its perfect, robot arm. ‘grasp-first-then-recognize:’ thus is — according to MIT — this picky robot’s ‘carpe diem.’