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This paper proposes and demonstrates a novel flexible tactile sensor for both normal and shear load detections. For the realization of the sensor, polyimide and polydimethylsiloxane are used as a substrate, which makes it flexible. Thin metal strain gauges, which are incorporated into the polymer, are used for measuring normal and shear loads. The salient feature of this tactile sensor is that it has no diaphragm-like structures. The unit tactile cell characteristics are evaluated against normal and shear loads. The fabricated tactile sensor can measure normal loads of up to 4 N, and the sensor output signals are saturated against loads of more than 4 N. Shear loads can be detected by different voltage drops in strain gauges. The device has no fragile structures; therefore, it can be used as a ground reaction force (GRF) sensor for balance control in humanoid robots. Four tactile unit sensors are assembled and placed in the four corners of the robots sole. By increasing bump dimensions, the tactile unit sensor can measure loads of up to 2 kgf. When loads are exerted on the sole, the GRF can be measured by these four sensors. The measured forces can be used in the balance control of biped locomotion systems.
Date of Publication: June 2007