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Science Technology

Electronic Sensor Rivals Sensitivity of Human Skin 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the super-touch dept.
ananyo writes "A flexible electronic sensor made from interlocking hairs can detect the gentle steps of a ladybird and distinguish between shear and twisting forces. The sensor consists of two interlocking sheets of nanofibres. When the sensor sheet is pressed, twisted or brushed, the squishy, metal-coated hairs change position, generating changes in the sensor's electrical resistance (abstract). Such subtle tactile input would be very useful for robots designed to interact with people, says Matei Ciocarlie, a scientist at robotics company Willow Garage. 'Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics,' says Ciocarlie, because it poses such a challenging problem: in addition to being robust, sensitive and flexible, it needs to be made in very large sheets."
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Electronic Sensor Rivals Sensitivity of Human Skin

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  • Very nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday July 30, 2012 @02:19PM (#40820383) Homepage

    This is useful. There have been various other attempts at building a robot skin with sensors, but they haven't been very good. Arrays of pressure sensors, like a touch screen, have been built, but nothing has been good enough to be really useful.

    Being able to sense shear forces is very useful when picking up something. One of the low-level reflexes in the body is the one that maintains contact with things you're holding, applying enough pressure to keep the object from slipping, but not much more than that. Robots need that, too.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.