Learning configurations of wires for real-time shape estimation and manipulation planning

Itamar Mishani, Avishai Sintov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robotic manipulation of a wire by its ends requires rapid reasoning of its shape in real-time. A recent development of an analytical model has shown that sensing of the force and torque on one end can be used to determine its shape. However, the model relies on assumptions that may not be met in real world wires and do not take into account gravity and non-linearity of the Force/Torque (F/T) sensor. Hence, the model cannot be applied to any wire with accurate shape estimation. In this paper, we explore the learning of a model to estimate the shape of a wire based solely on measurements of F/T states and without any visual perception. Visual perception is only used for off-line data collection. We propose to train a Supervised Autoencoder with convolutional layers that reconstructs the spatial shape of the wire while enforcing the latent space to resemble the space of F/T. Then, the encoder operates as a descriptor of the wire where F/T states can be mapped to its shape. On the other hand, the decoder of the model is the inverse problem where a desired goal shape can be mapped to the required F/T state. With the same collected data, we also learn the mapping from F/T states to grippers poses. Then, a motion planner can plan a path within the F/T space to a goal while avoiding obstacles. We validate the proposed data-based approach on Nitinol and standard electrical wires, and demonstrate the ability to accurately estimate their shapes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105967
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Convolutional autoencoder
  • Elastic wires
  • Shape estimation


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