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Human-Robot Interaction: Playing Tower of Hanoi with Robots

Catherine Bernier
by Catherine Bernier. Last updated on Jan 29, 2015 10:59 AM
Posted on Aug 08, 2013 11:34 AM. 3 min read time

These last months, we have heard a lot about new applications that allow human-robot collaboration in a working environment. It is now possible for robots to interact with humans, either through the systems integrated into the robot itself or via external devices.

During an experiment at the Cognition and Robotics lab of the Blekinge Institute of Technology, in Karlskrona, Sweden, Johan Hagelbäck was able to interact with two robots in order to play the puzzle game, Tower of Hanoi.

The Game


This game is a puzzle where there is a plate with three vertical sticks. Here, the tower is constructed out of 4 discs of different sizes. The goal of the game is to transfer the tower from the first stick to the last one. However, you are allowed to move only one disc at a time and never put a big one over a small one. This puzzle is known to require a lot of moves in order to be able to solve it.

The Setup

Johan used different devices to prepare this experiment.

  • Two Adept Viper S650 robot arms

  • Two Robotiq 2-Finger Adaptive Robot Grippers as end effectors

  • One Microsoft Kinect camera

  • A wooden Tower of Hanoi from the nearest toy store

  • A Windows 7, 32-bit PC to control everything

Let’s Play

In this video, you can see that the robot waits until the human makes its move to take its turn. The system is using the Microsoft Kinect camera to monitor each move and update the current game status after each move.


Their biggest challenge was the camera vision system. The Kinect is very sensitive to light variation, so the team had to put curtains on all the windows to dampen the light fluxuations during the day. The discs of the tower were painted black with a white stripe to help the camera detect them.

We can easily see how well the Robotiq Grippers work in this video and their precision is clearly visible. They can easily adapt to any shape of object either with a parallel or encompassing grip. Robotiq’s electric end effectors can detect if they have gripped a part or not. Moreover, their speed and force are fully adjustable. These end effectors can be used in many applications besides playing games such as: bin picking, material handling, machine tending, etc. Though playing games with a robot does sound like fun!

GET THE EBOOK: Electric Robot Gripper Advantages

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Catherine Bernier
Written by Catherine Bernier
Catherine is an Application Engineer here at Robotiq. Drawing from her expertise with manufacturing processes, production management and business management in general, her main focus is helping her clients find the solutions that will best serve their needs. If you have any questions about Robotiq's products and how they can serve your application, get in touch with her at
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