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Controlling grip force in a prosthetic or robotic hand requires detailed sensory feedback information about microslips between the artificial fingertips and the object. In the biological hand this is accomplished with neural transducers capable of measuring micro-vibrations in the skin due to sliding friction. For prosthetic tactile sensors, emulating these biological transducers is a difficult challenge due to the fragility associated with highly sensitive devices. Incorporating a pressure sensor into a fluid-filled fingertip provides a novel solution to this problem by effectively creating a device similar to a hydrophone, capable of recording vibrations from lateral movements. The fluid conducts these acoustic signals well and with little attenuation, permitting the pressure sensing elements to be located in a protected region inside the core of the sensor and removing them from harmpsilas way. Preliminary studies demonstrate that high frequency vibrations (50-400 Hz) can be readily detected when such a fingertip slides across a ridged surface.
Date of Conference: 19-22 Oct. 2008