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Dual-Mode Capacitive Proximity Sensor for Robot Application: Implementation of Tactile and Proximity Sensing Capability on a Single Polymer Platform Using Shared Electrodes

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3 Author(s)
Hyung-Kew Lee ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA ; Sun-Il Chang ; Euisik Yoon

In this paper, we report a flexible dual-mode capacitive sensor for robot applications which has two sensing capabilities in a single platform; tactile and proximity sensing capability. The sensor consists of a mechanical structure based on PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane) and a mesh of multiple copper electrode strips. The mesh is composed of 16 top and 16 bottom copper strips crossed each other to form a 16 times 16 capacitor array. The proposed sensor is able to switch its function from tactile sensing to proximity sensing or vice versa by reconfiguring the connection of electrodes. The tactile sensing capability has been demonstrated already and reported in our previous paper (Lee et al.,, 2006); therefore, in this paper, we will demonstrate the feasibility of the proximity sensing capability and the dual-mode operation of the proposed sensor in detail. The capacitance change caused by an approaching object has been estimated through simulation of multiple two-dimensional models as an initial study. The measured data have shown similar trends with the simulation results. We tested various materials from conducting metals to a human hand for proximity measurement. The fabricated sensor could detect a human hand at a distance up to 17 cm away from the sensor. We also have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of dual-mode operation of the proposed sensor in real-time exploiting a custom designed PCB, a data acquisition pad, and Labview software.

Published in:

Sensors Journal, IEEE  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 12 )