Stretch Robot Pitch Competition advertisement features competition details and an image that shows a robot passing a man a drink

Stretch Robot Pitch Competition (2021)

The inaugural Stretch Robot Pitch Competition, sponsored by TechSAge RERC, in collaboration with Hello Robot and P&G was hosted at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. The competition sought innovative hardware or software solutions to support individuals aging with disabilities at home using the StretchTM robot. Developed by Hello Robot, Stretch is an open source mobile manipulator with reaching, grasping, and sensing capabilities to support people with a wide range of tasks. Students submitted a brief proposal and pitch video that detailed their concept for Stretch and how it addressed a need for individuals aging with disabilities. Undergraduate and graduate Illinois students, representing a wide range of disciplines, submitted novel ideas for Stretch to support this population. An interdisciplinary panel of judges including representatives from TechSAge, Hello Robot, and P&G evaluated the submissions. 

Congratulations to these very impressive students!

1st Place

Rethinking Household Tasks For Elders With Soft Robotics

Team: Maya Grant (Grainger College of Engineering) & Ilalee Harrison James (Gies College of Business)

The concept is a hands-free method to open bottles and tops using Stretch. The team conceptualized an enhanced gripping mechanism comprised of a vacuum and suction gripper to increase friction for twisting applications and an end effector that can conform to a variety of objects. The soft, malleable gripper can adapt to different shapes and sizes, offering the potential to support opening and closing tops on a variety of household products. Prize: $1000 plus 20 hours in the McKechnie Family LIFE Home to develop and test the proposed product with expert consultation in Spring 2022.

Ilalee Harrison James (left) and Maya Grant (right) post with Stretch Robot handing them an award certificate

Honorable Mention

Wayfinding Assistance for Aged People with Visual Impairments

Team: Shuijing Liu, Aamir Hasan, Eric Liang, Kaiwen Hong, Justin Lin, and Sean Yao (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

The concept utilizes Stretch for indoor wayfinding assistance for people with vision impairment. Integrating voice commands with Stretch’s pose estimation capabilities, users would verbally instruct Stretch on where to go while holding on to the robot’s arm during navigation. Prize: $500

Shuijing Liu poses with Stretch Robot handing her an award certificate

Honorable Mention

A Universal Tool for Handles

Megan Bayles (College of Applied Health Sciences)

The concept is a universal tool that can be attached to a variety of different handles to make grasping objects with Stretch easier. Different prototypes for the tool will be created and tested, including 3D printed outer shells and infill materials like nylon and silicon. Prize: $500

Megan Bayles poses with Stretch Robot handing her an award certificate


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