Robot ‘Skin’ Built With Touch Superior to Humans

Robots may not have a sense of emotional feeling, but thanks to researchers at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, they may soon have the gift of physical feeling.

With the appropriate sensors, actuators, and software, robots can be given the ability to feel, or at least identify materials by touch, the school said.

Researchers today published a study in Frontiers in Neurorobotics said mentioned a specially developed robot built to mimic the human fingertip can in fact outperform a living individual in identifying a wide range of supplies, based on textures.

Biomedical Engineering Professor Gerald Loeb and recently graduated doctoral student Jeremy Fishel created the BioTac, a biologically inspired tactile sensor. With their new technology, the researchers explored the robot hand’s ability to distinguish 117 common materials gathered from fabric, stationary, and hardware stores. The robot’s 99.6 percent performance rate in correctly discriminating pairs of similar textures was better than most humans would test, according to researchers.

Sources and more information:

• USC Engineers Create a Robot Finger That Beats Humans at … – PCWorld

By Kevin Lee , PCWorld Jun 19, 2012 10:22 AM A robot hand equipped with SynTouch’s BioTac sensors. Credit: USC Viterbi School of Engineering We’ve seen more than a handful of research projects with the goal to make robots look and feel more like us humans . A team of scientists from the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of…

• Tactile robot finger outperforms humans in identifying textures – Gizmag

Image Gallery (4 images) We’ve seen the development of a number of technologies that could be used to provide robots with a sense of touch, such as proximity and temperature sensing hexagonal plates and artificial skin constructed from semiconductor nanowires. However, perhaps none are as impressive as a tactile sensor developed by researchers at…

• New USC Robots Get Touchy Feely with New BioTac Sensors

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• Robotic fingertips are more sensitive than a human’s

• USC Robots Get Touchy Feely with New BioTac Sensors