Engineers from MIT and Princeton University have developed a robotic pick-and-place system that consists of a standard industrial robotic arm outfitted with a custom gripper and suction cup. An "object-agnostic" grasping algorithm enables the robot to assess a bin of random objects and determine the best way to grip or suction onto an item amid the clutter, without having to know anything about the object before picking it up.
Once it has successfully grasped an item, the robot lifts it out from the bin. A set of cameras then takes images of the object from various angles, and with the help of a new image-matching algorithm, the robot can compare the images of the picked object with a library of other images to find the closest match. In this way, the robot identifies the object, then stows it away in a separate bin.