Flexible ‘skin’ can help robots, prosthetics perform everyday tasks by sensing shear force

If a robot is sent to disable a roadside bomb — or delicately handle an egg while cooking you an omelet — it needs to be able to sense when objects are slipping out of its grasp.

Yet to date it’s been difficult or impossible for most robotic and prosthetic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and shear forces that occur, for example, when a finger is sliding along a tabletop or when an object begins to fall.

Now, engineers from the University of Washington and UCLA have developed a flexible sensor “skin” that can be stretched over any part of a robot’s body or prosthetic to accurately convey information about shear forces and vibration that are critical to successfully grasping and manipulating objects.

The bio-inspired robot sensor skin mimics the way a human finger experiences tension and compression as it slides along a surface or distinguishes among different textures.

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Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future. He lives in London with a single android - a temperamental vacuum cleaner - but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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Flexible ‘skin’ can help robots, prosthetics perform every…

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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