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]


32 thoughts on “Artificial Skin Lets Robots Feel

  1. Presumably this will carry “academic” pricing.

    That said, it doesn’t look all that complicated, apart from the minute sensors, and I guess they’re either available or not.

    I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t come up with an alternative using piezo sensors, if that isn’t what this design uses. Let’s be honest, fake finger skin isn’t exactly hard to do – Just ask any gummi bear:

    1. The report seems a bit short: They talk about a hydrophone sensing the vibrations on the “skin”. But what then are all the button-looking metal disks? Seems to me there is a hydrophone component and then a tactile one.

      1. Wait, my bad! If the diagram in the video above is correct, then conductive fluid would make these resistive contacts rather than capacitive. Still think a contact grid from an inkjet head would work, though…

    1. Reminds me of T2 when John asks the terminator if he feels pain, and the terminator replies with a comment about how it can sense damage to itself and how this can be analogous to a human feeling pain, but the audience knows that the robot is incapable of feeling pain like a human can.

      So to answer your question I would have to say “No.”

    2. Pain and pleasure are just attachments to the base tactile feedback. If you want to program the robot to feel affinity or aversion to specific tactile feedbacks, go right ahead.

    1. haha I like this one (:
      it’s when the robot that can exert one hundred tones of pressure doesn’t know it’s own strength…
      I’m thinking is a robot had a whole body suit of this stuff it would require some serious parallel possessing to read it all. even if there were if this area is active then read interrupts. Maybe a GPU style possessor could do the trick.
      I’m thinking how many transistors in an i7 then how many zx spectrum computers could you fit on there (leaving room for them all to chatter to each other maybe with slightly reduced individual memory)

      1. “Mmm… I thought for sure that would work…”

        “Maybe a prosthetic?”

        “No. Then they’ll just think they’re superior to us for ‘being’ a hybrid. Then we would have to deal with… Know what? Let’s just call them hands-free humans. Safer for use. We’d make millions.”

  2. I came up with a surprisingly similar concept about a year and a half ago but it never got further than a working prototype, since dismantled for parts. I hope some really interesting advances come from this (:

  3. Really cool! Would love to see a more technical write-up on. I’m curious about the sensors they use and their data acquisition setup.

    It looks like something that could be hacked together fair well, given a good understanding of how it works.

  4. great, another piece of the puzzle solved.

    what puzzle? well, in order for robots to create new robots all on their own, they not only need object recognition, but tactile sense to “feel” the part being inserted!

    after all, we have all screwed something up before due to “forcing it” when we were actually doing it wrong! if the robots can now feel like we do, they actually have as much of a chance as us at getting it done without breaking anything!

    the advantage of the computers is they dont “forget” to use feedback analysis! and they dont get frustrated/angry! XD (if it takes too much pressure, STOP, then re-evaluate)

    1. they not only need object recognition, but tactile sense to “feel” the part being inserted!

      In light of the previous comment, I hope you are talking about an assembly robot!

  5. What if we (humans) are too intelligent to include flaws such that our robots are too good at sensing and anticipating our needs and thus burn us out on the joy they were designed to bring, leaving us as cynical and withdrawn as we were when we started?

  6. The decision to kill a mass murderer is an education in “Duh”! I would not have had second thought to deep six him. Out of the ridiculous decisions this creep has made (keystone, obamacare, self before country, Holder, et al. )he actually got it right for a change. I personally feel this is one of the most narcissistic, deranged and dangerous person we’ve ever had in the White House. He will try to burn down the country before relinquishing the presidency and I’m glad that the people are waking-up to this poseur’s deranged self regard!

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