The world of robotics is increasing by the second, and its applications have directly impacted the human world and how we process data. It is a no-brainer that robots use sensors to help them mimic human movements, to perform specific tasks. Although the integration of vision sensors, motion sensors, and many others had been introduced long back to the robotics world, the idea of touch sensors, also called tactile sensors, was often overlooked.

world of robotics

However, over the years, researchers started understanding the value of the sense of touch in robotic development. Having tactile sensors in robots enables the working of other sensors for power, machine vision, freedom of movement, and many more tasks.

Robotic touch technology and applications

One of the best touch sensor technology used in today’s robotics world is built by force torque sensors and the mechanism of low-resolution pressure sensors in the contact points of grippers. These tiny contact points act as the fingertips of a robot. Many of the present-generation robots use this technique for touch sensing. Integrating these sensors in the tips of robot fingers helps determine the system and object edges and results in close manipulation of the objects, just like the mechanism in a human body. This feature has also helped develop cobots, which work in sensitive environments close to humans.

Simple piezoresistive, capacitive, or piezoelectric technologies can be used to create such tactile sensors. However, the capacitive sensors have a higher advantage than the others, as they help the robots to solve their movements when they’re close to the object, avoiding wasting power and causing damage. In addition, a discrete set of temperature, moisture, and other sensors are attached to the gripper pads to provide a more human-like motion for these robotic hands.

Sensor fusion

Sensor fusion means integrating several sensors to build a versatile robot that can perform complex tasks, which helps determine an object’s physical properties. For instance, a robot with a capacitive tactile sensor cannot alone pick up metal and plastic objects as they have different capacitors.

Hence, when multiple sensors are overlapped in different detection areas, they can be relied on to produce data on critical scenarios. Also, having multiple sensors can help detect the robot’s safety and efficiency. For instance, a contradictory reading from two different tactile sensors indicates a problem in robot functioning, which also helps easily detect sensor failure.

Accurate feedback from the tactile sensor helps maintain the safety and efficiency of cobots- robots that work relatively efficiently with humans. Fortunately, modern machine learning and AI technologies are great at programming and integrating different sensors to make decisions. Hence, AI also plays a crucial role in robot touch sensing, giving a robot human-like skin with many embedded tactile sensors.