The i-bot system is a flexible, adaptive and programmable sensory device for industrial robots. The system consists of independent modules for vision and gripper control, that guide the robot to perform acquisition of jumbled or isolated parts from a bin. The acquired parts are transported to a fixture and properly aligned by the robot-arm. The parts in the bin are identical except for minor dimensional and textural variations. These parts may be colored, contain graphics, possess multiple diameters or other cross sections, mixed material content and reflectivities. The system operates by taking a high resolution grey scale image of the bin of parts using an overhead camera under ambient illumination. The image is preprocessed by video range expansion, windowing, histogram based enhancement techniques and is segmented into multiple clusters by analyzing spatial characteristics. Algorithms are developed for fast and iterative data compression and for estimation of location and orientation of a cluster irrespective of its shape. The photobeam, collision, and pressure sensors on the parallel jaw gripper aremonitored during the acquisition process. Experiments have been performed with fuel filters, curved plier blanks, multicolored markers, "L" shaped fuel links, ball bearings and a mixture of semi-rusted threaded and unthreaded bolts of various lengths. In one image processing cycle of 2 seconds, i-bot can compute locations and orientations of a maximum of 3 work-pieces at a successful acquisition rate of approximately 95%.