This paper reports the development of a manipulation system for electric wires, implemented by means of a commercial gripper installed on an industrial manipulator and equipped with cameras and suitably designed tactile sensors. The purpose of this system is the execution of wire insertion on commercial electromechanical components. The synergy between computer vision and tactile sensing is necessary because, in a real environment, the tight spaces very often prevent the possibility to use the vision system, also when the same task is performed by a human being. A novel technique to speed up the generation of training data sets for convolutional neural networks (CNNs) is proposed. Therefore, this technique is used to train a CNN in order to detect small objects (such as wire terminals). Moreover, aiming to prevent faults during the task and to interact with the environment safely, several machine learning approaches are used to produce an affordable output from the tactile sensor. The proposed approach shows how a cheap sensor embedded with suitable intelligence can provide information comparable to a more expensive force sensor.
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