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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W024985/1
Title: SORO-MADE: Soft Robotic Mannequin with Programmable Shape Deformation
Principal Investigator: Wang, Professor C
Other Investigators:
Gill, Dr S Weightman, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2022 Ends: 31 August 2025 Value (£): 859,337
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Feb 2022 Manufacturing Instrumenting the Future Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK Fashion industry is a sector that contributed up to £35 billions to the UK economy per year. Future retail trends are likely to shift from purchasing mass-manufactured apparel products to consuming personalised products, services, and experiences. These new challenges of retail industry are resulting in a rise in high street store based bespoken design and fabrication, where physical mannequins with customised 3D forms are essential instruments for garment production and fitting.

As one of the most popular topics in robotics, soft robotic systems have received more and more attention from researchers and industrial entrepreneurs. Different from conventional robotic systems with rigid components connected by joints, a soft robotic system is formed by deformable materials in specially design structures. The deformation actuated by a soft robotic system has many more degree-of-freedom to realize a target freeform shape that cannot be generated by conventional robots with rigid bodies. This is important as bodies even sharing similar key dimensions, can vary considerably in other parts.

The proposed project aims at enabling a deformable mannequin to facilitate the customised garment production for different body shapes by employing the many more degree-of-freeform deformation that can be provided by a soft robotic system. Advanced technology of soft robotics will be investigated to realise the prototype of a pneumatically actuated soft mannequin, which can be morphed to form different shapes of individual users. A computational framework will be developed to optimise the numbers, shapes, and locations of chambers for the soft mannequin to accurately capture the 3D shapes of individual customers. Our design of soft mannequin will integrate proprioceptive sensors to provide feedback of a deformed shape, and control software will be developed for the deformable mannequin to realise a programmable morphing of 3D shapes. The mannequin will be able to operate in the environment with high-temperature steam to allow for draping and forming of garments.

The outcome of this project will help to enhance the efficiency (therefore also the productivity) of the textile and apparel industry, reshore textile-based industries back to the UK, support the sustainable apparel production, and advance the frontier of robotic technology in fashion production.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk