Saturday, June 22, 2024

Versatile Skin-Like Sensors Fit Nearly Anywhere

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Soft skin-like sensors offer advanced haptic sensing for robotics and prosthetics, providing real-time feedback and precise interactions with diverse objects, opening new possibilities in artificial intelligence.

The sensor skin is very flexible and can be attached to many surfaces, including fingers, for example. Credit: Andreas Heddergott / TUM
The sensor skin is very flexible and can be attached to many surfaces, including fingers, for example. Credit: Andreas Heddergott / TUM

In robotics and prosthetics, emulating human hand skills is a significant goal. Force and torque sensors are commonly integrated into robotic devices, offering essential feedback on their interactions with the surroundings. Nevertheless, traditional sensors lack customization and attachment to arbitrary objects. Until now, no process existed for producing sensors adaptable to rigid objects of various shapes and sizes.

Researchers from the Munich Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MIRMI) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed An automatic process for creating soft sensors. These versatile measurement cells can be easily attached to a wide range of objects, making them suitable for various applications, with a particular focus on robotics and prosthetics.

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New framework for soft sensors presented for the first time

The framework automates the production process for this specialized skin, using software to design the sensory systems and a 3D printer to craft soft sensors. The printer injects conductive black paste into liquid silicone, which results in sensors that adjust to the surface they are applied to, like fingers or hands. These sensors, which can change electrical resistance when squeezed or stretched, provide precise data for interactions with objects, making them crucial for controlling artificial hands during these interactions. With sensors adaptable to diverse surfaces, the researchers ensured precise feedback for effective interactions.

New perspectives for robotics and especially prosthetics

Integrating these soft, skin-like sensors into 3D objects paves the way for advanced haptic sensing in artificial intelligence. The sensors offer real-time data on compressive forces and deformations, enabling immediate feedback and expanding the perception range of objects or robotic hands, facilitating more sophisticated and sensitive interactions. The researchers highlight the potential for a revolutionary impact on industries like robotics, prosthetics, and human-machine interaction, enabling wireless and customizable sensor technology for various objects and machines.

Reference: Sonja Groß et al, Soft Sensing Skins for Arbitrary Objects: An Automatic Framework, 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) (2023). DOI: 10.1109/ICRA48891.2023.10161344

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.

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