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Directions Toward Effective Utilization of Tactile Skin: A Review

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5 Author(s)
Ravinder S. Dahiya ; Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering Research Division, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, U.K. ; Philipp Mittendorfer ; Maurizio Valle ; Gordon Cheng
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A wide variety of tactile (touch) sensors exist today for robotics and related applications. They make use of various transduction methods, smart materials and engineered structures, complex electronics, and sophisticated data processing. While highly useful in themselves, effective utilization of tactile sensors in robotics applications has been slow to come and largely remains elusive today. This paper surveys the state of the art and the research issues in this area, with the emphasis on effective utilization of tactile sensors in robotic systems. One specific with the use of tactile sensing in robotics is that the sensors have to be spread along the robot body, the way the human skin is-thus dictating varied 3-D spatio-temporal requirements, decentralized and distributed control, and handling of multiple simultaneous tactile contacts. Satisfying these requirements pose challenges to making tactile sensor modality a reality. Overcoming these challenges requires dealing with issues such as sensors placement, electronic/mechanical hardware, methods to access and acquire signals, automatic calibration techniques, and algorithms to process and interpret sensing data in real time. We survey this field from a system perspective, recognizing the fact that the system performance tends to depend on how its various components are put together. It is hoped that the survey will be of use to practitioners designing tactile sensing hardware (whole-body or large-patch sensor coverage), and to researchers working on cognitive robotics involving tactile sensing.

Published in:

IEEE Sensors Journal  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 11 )