Rutgers University computer scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have leveraged artificial intelligence to develop a robotic arm that can package boxes.

The team created software and algorithms that helps the robot move objects from a bin into shipping boxes in a tightly arranged fashion. It uses visual data and suction cups to see and grip objects, NSF added in a press release.

“The resulting system can topple objects to get a desirable surface for grabbing them and use sensor data to pull objects toward a targeted area and push objects together,” NSF said. “It is designed to overcome errors during packing.

NSF said that tightly packing boxes at shipping warehouses is a significantly manual task and that automating such activities is key to keep companies competitive and to allow workers to focus on less low-value and physically taxing work.

The computer scientists who developed the arm released a study published at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and it was a finalist for the Best Paper Award in Automation.

The NSF Division of Information and Intelligent System’s Robust Intelligence Program supported the research.

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