AdapTex – Adaptive Textile based Sensor and Actuator Skin towards Robotic Handling of Textiles in Sorting/Recycling

AdapTex aims to improve robotic handling of textiles in sorting and recycling by means of textile based robot skins with sensing and actuation capabilities. Additionally, the haptic feedback will be used to improve garment classification of textiles such that more textiles can remain in circular economy and waste gets reduced.

Textile recycling aims to reuse old clothing and other textiles or – where this is not possible or feasibly – to recover the material thereof. With an estimated 100 billion of garments produced annually, it has been widely recognized that textile recycling is of high importance for an efficient use of natural resources and the
avoidance of waste. Furthermore, besides the production also the decomposition of textiles in landfills contributes to the production of CO2.
In order to increase the reuse of textiles or the recovery of fibers, it is necessary to efficiently and accurately sort waste textiles. Considering the large amounts as described above this leads to the need for automatic sorting systems. Such systems are currently mainly using non-contact methods, e.g., with visual or near
infrared sensors. In contrast, in manual classification of textiles (reuse versus recovery and material classification) humans also consider the haptics of physical interaction with the textiles. However, such handling of objects and evaluation of haptic feedback is still a challenging topic in robotics. This is in particular true in recycling of textiles, where robots will have to operate in a cluttered environment with arbitrary sets of textiles made from various materials that have various shapes and sizes. Furthermore, various contaminations with non-textile objects may be present. Nevertheless, the grasping process plays an important role for
effective sorting of such materials in recycling facilities. Therefore, this proposed project focuses on the physical interaction of the robot gripper with the textiles with the aim of improving both the handling and the classification of textiles. In order to achieve these improvements, the project proposes the concept of adaptive textile based sensors skins, i.e. smart textiles that do comprise networks of sensor and actuators to be able to adapt the physical interactions with textiles in the sorting process. The proposed approach will provide high and temporal spatial resolution for normal and shear forces on planar and curved surfaces within a flexible and/or stretchable skin. Due to the network of small distributed actuators the skin becomes adaptive, i.e. it can change the shape and/or mechanical properties, which will be used for improved physical interaction with the textiles and also for active classification of the textiles.
The unique properties of AdapTex-Skin give it the potential to be widely used not only in recycling of textiles but also in many other areas of the textile industry and many other systems, where distributed networks of sensors and actuators are beneficial and generate added value compared to single systems, as for example human in cloths for sports, lifestyle and rehabilitation as well as in providing improved capabilities and functionalities for autonomous systems and industrial manufacturing and automation.


University of Klagenfurt



Grabher Group GmbH

Infineon Technologies Austria AG

Silicon Austria Labs GmbH

Universität Stuttgart

V-trion GmbH