Toward Fast and Optimal Robotic Pick-And-Place on a Moving Conveyor

Shuai D. Han, Si Wei Feng, Jingjin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Robotic pick-And-place (PnP) operations on moving conveyors find a wide range of industrial applications. In practice, simple greedy heuristics (e.g., prioritization based on the time to process a single object) are applied that achieve reasonable efficiency. We show analytically that, under a simplified telescoping robot model, these greedy approaches do not ensure time optimality of PnP operations. To address the shortcomings of classical solutions, we develop algorithms that compute optimal object picking sequences for a predetermined finite horizon. Employing dynamic programming techniques and additional heuristics, our methods scale to up to tens to hundreds of objects. In particular, the fast algorithms we develop come with running time guarantees, making them suitable for real-Time PnP applications demanding high throughput. Extensive evaluation of our algorithmic solution over dominant industrial PnP robots used in real-world applications, i.e., Delta robots and Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) robots, shows that a typical efficiency gain of around \text{10}{\%}-\text{40}{\%} over greedy approaches can be realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8938744
Pages (from-to)446-453
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Factory automation
  • industrial robots
  • planning
  • scheduling and coordination

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