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This paper proposes a method for interactive surface recognition and surface categorization by a humanoid robot using a vibrotactile sensory modality. The robot was equipped with an artificial fingernail that had a built-in three-axis accelerometer. The robot interacted with 20 different surfaces by performing five different exploratory scratching behaviors on them. Surface-recognition models were learned by coupling frequency-domain analysis of the vibrations detected by the accelerometer with machine learning algorithms, such as support vector machine (SVM) and k-nearest neighbors (k -NN). The results show that by applying several different scratching behaviors on a test surface, the robot can recognize surfaces better than with any single behavior alone. The robot was also able to estimate a measure of similarity between any two surfaces, which was used to construct a grounded hierarchical surface categorization.
Date of Publication: June 2011