Meter-Scale Distance Manipulation of Diverse Objects with Jet-Induced Airflow Field

Shahriar Najafi Haeri, Artur Kopitca, Hakan Kandemir, Quan Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In nature, wind can transport objects of diverse shapes and materials over long distances spanning meters or beyond. In contrast, most noncontact manipulation methods are effective only over centimeter-scale distances and require the manipulated objects to have specific magnetic, electrical, or other material properties and shapes. Herein, a meter-scale distance manipulation method is presented for controlling the motion of objects of diverse shapes and materials on a plane surface using a jet-induced airflow field. The airflow field is varied by controlling the direction of a single air jet projected onto a surface based on the positions of objects to steer the objects to follow desired trajectories up to 2.7 m away. A wide variety of objects can be automatically manipulated, from regularly shaped polystyrene hemispheres and sticks to irregularly shaped cotton wads and face masks as well as deformable tissue papers and plastic bags. The method is also robust, effectively manipulating objects under challenging conditions, e.g., external airflow disturbances, surface obstacles, and air–water interface. Finally, three application cases are demonstrated: collecting diverse objects into a target receptacle, hooking and retrieving heavy objects with a tethered mobile agent, and closing an electrical circuit with an untethered soft agent.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Intelligent Systems
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • aerodynamics
  • automatic control
  • jet-induced airflow field
  • remote noncontact manipulation


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