AI & Robotics for Garment Handling

Principal Investigator: Professor Norman C. TIEN (Chair Professor of Microsystems Technology from Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

This project is showcased in the third exhibition – Technology for Future.

About the scholar

Professor Norman C. TIEN

Research interests:
• MEMS technology
• Robotics
TransGP website:

Project information


  • Labor shortage impacts garment factories and labor-intensive industries.
  • Automation helps workers focus on higher value-added tasks.
  • Industrial systems face challenges in automating textile handling.

Technical Challenges

  • Machines lack fabric handling intuition like human workers.
  • Modern robots struggle with grasping and positioning limp and flexible fabrics.
  • AI and robotic systems need customization for fabric automation tasks.
  • Existing industrial robots cannot fully replace human workers in garment production.

Easy-to-deploy Program-free minimal-Customization Highly flexible (EPOCH) Robot System

  • Developed by TransGP for garment handling tasks.
  • Custom-programming is not required in the working environment.
  • Has a flexible end-effector for handling various types of garment article.
  • Easy changing of gripping point and accurate shape prediction.
  • Simple teaching interface for quick learning of tasks.
  • Promising solution for garment handling in the absence of manual labor.
  • Major components:
    1. Robot hand
      • Can perform two grasps: palmar pinch (point) & parallel extension (line).
      • Equipped with tactile sensor and traction on the tip of the finger to lift a single layer of garment.
    2. Camera technology
      • Provide detailed local information in the grasping area.
      • Identify and adapt to unique characteristics of handled objects.
Project video
Project images
Robot hand with tactile sensor and traction can lift a single layer of garment.
Camera provides local information in the vicinity of the grasping area such as relative pose, seams and bumps.
Palmar pinch grasp
Parallel extension grasp
Dual arm system for garment handling task
About the Centre

The project represents a part of the research programmes of the Centre for Transformative Garment Production (TransGP), which is jointly formed by HKU and Tohoku University, Japan to tackle real-world technical problems in the garment industry.

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