A robots sensitivity to touch could be vastly improved by an array of polymer-based tactile sensors that has been combined with a robust signal-processing algorithm to classify surface textures. The work, performed by a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is an essential step in the development of robots that can identify and manipulate objects in unstructured environments.
"We are developing artificial tactile sensors that will imitate the functionality and efficiency found in biological structures such as human fingers," said Chang Liu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. "We have shown that simple, low-cost sensor arrays can be used to analyze and identify surface textures."
Biological sensors provide a wealth of information concerning the shape, hardness and texture of an object. Robots, which typically possess a single pressure sensor in their grip, cant determine whether an object is hard or soft, or how hard it is squeezing an object.
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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