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Providing contact sensing on the whole body of a robot is a key feature to increase the safety level of physical human-robot interaction. In this paper, a new robot skin capable of sensing multiple contact locations is presented. The motivation behind the proposed design is to produce a relatively inexpensive skin having the capability to provide the spatial location of collisions and also to add compliance to the robot's external cover. The resulting device is a thin flexible sensor sheet made of polyimide films with electrically conductive ink and a pressure sensitive conductive rubber sheet. The problem of internal wire routing is circumvented by the use of conductive ink and a circuit is proposed to minimize the number of output wires. To provide collision absorption and mechanical robustness, the sensor is embedded in different layers of polyurethane using shape deposition manufacturing (SDM). The paper presents the design and the fabrication process of the skin but also some experimental results on the determination of the mechanical properties of the resulting sensor as well as its potential for increasing human safety during human robot interaction.
Date of Conference: 12-17 May 2009