Build Your Own Sensor Skin

Scientific research, especially in the area of robotics, often leverages cutting-edge technology. Labs filled with the latest measurement and fabrication gear are unleashed on the really tough problems, like how to simulate the exquisite sensing abilities of human skin. One lab doing work in this area has taken a different approach, though, by building multi-functional sensors arrays from paper.

A group from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, led by [Muhammad M. Hussain], has published a fascinating paper that’s a tour de force of getting a lot done with nothing. Common household items, like Post-It notes, kitchen sponges, tissue paper, and tin foil, are used to form the basis of what they call “paper skin”. Fabrication techniques – scissors and tape – are ridiculously simple and accessible to anyone who made it through kindergarten.

They do turn to a Circuit Scribe pen for some of their sensors, but even this nod to high technology is well within their stated goal of making it possible for anyone to fabricate sensors at home. The paper goes into great detail about how the sensors are made, how they interact, and how they are interfaced. It’s worth a read to see what you can accomplish with scraps.

For another low-tech paper-based sensor, check out this capacitive touch sensor keyboard.

Thanks for the tip, [Mattias]

Artificial skin lets robots feel

BioTac Artificial Skin Technology is sure to be a storm with Robotics Designers. Giving them the opportunity to add a third sense to there robotic marvels. Now they can have the sense of touch to go along with existing technologies of sight and of sound.  Thanks to the technology coming out of the University of Southern California making this possible.

They have chosen to call their sensor BioTac, which is a new type of tactile sensor designed to mimic the human fingertip with its soft flexible skin. The sensor makes it possible to identify different types of texture by analyzing the vibrations produced as the sensor brushes over materials. This sensor is also capable of measuring pressure applied and  ambient temperature around the finger tip, expect to see this technology in next gen prosthetics. Let us know your thoughts on it.

[via technabob]
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Morphing robot demonstrated at IROS

morphing-robot

A morphing robot was demonstrated at the IROS conference this week. This orb has no rigid structure but uses some type of “inflation” system for locomotion. This robot concept is offered up by the iRobot company as part of a DARPA initiative they’re working on. The “inflation” is really a substance in the skin that can be converted from a liquid-like state to a solid-like one. They call this “The Jamming Concept” and give a layman’s explanation in the video we’ve embedded after the break.

When moving, this white ball is a churning, turning, bulging mass of terror. The just-about-to-hatch pods from Alien, or perhaps something from Doom 3 come to mind. The hexapod from IROS that we covered yesterday was amazing, but this really creeps us out. What’s more, this is footage from the iRobot prototypes of a year ago.  The newer stuff can do much more, like having several of these things glob together into one unit.

We’re glad that [DarwinSurvior] sent us the tip on this one, but now we’re not going to be able to sleep at night.

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