New sensor to allow the robot to perceive objects

Новый датчик позволить роботам осязать предметы

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Using machine learning researchers from Switzerland have developed a new, but inexpensive tactile sensor. The sensor measures the force distribution with high accuracy, allowing the manipulators of the robot to capture sensitive or fragile objects.

People can easily get hold of fragile or slippery objects in their hands. The sense of touch allows us to understand if we compress the object or it will slip from the hands.

Robot manipulators usually cannot handle the same task just as easily. As the portal myScience, specialists, ETH Zurich has developed a tactile sensor, which can be a significant step towards the creation of a “skin” for robots. It consists of a stretchy silicone “skin” with colored plastic microspheres and conventional cameras attached to the bottom of the sensor.

When the sensor is in contact with the subject silicone-skin appears dent. This changes the pattern of the microspheres, which is recorded by the camera on the bottom side of the sensor. Based on these changes, it is possible to calculate the distribution of force on the sensor.

According to the developers, the robot design allows to distinguish several degrees of the applied force acting on the sensor surface, and to calculate them with a high degree of resolution and accuracy.

The sensor can determine not only strength, providing vertical pressure, but also shear forces, which act in the transverse direction.

The most subtle prototype of the sensor is 1.7 cm in thickness and covers the surface 5×5 cm. Now researchers are working to expand the surface of the sensor. A larger version will feature multiple cameras and will be able to recognize objects of complex shape.

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