Humans have been shown to be good at using active touch to perceive subtle differences in compliance. They tend to use highly stereotypical exploratory strategies, such as applying normal force to a surface. We developed similar exploratory and perceptual algorithms for a mechatronic robotic system (Barrett arm/hand system) equipped with liquid-filled, biomimetic tactile sensors (BioTac® from SynTouch LLC). The distribution of force on the fingertip was measured by the electrical resistance of the conductive liquid trapped between the elastomeric skin and a cluster of four electrodes on the flat fingertip surface of the rigid core of the BioTac. These signals provided closed-loop control of exploratory movements, while the distribution of skin deformations, measured by more lateral electrodes and by the hydraulic pressure, were used to estimate material properties of objects. With this control algorithm, the robot plus tactile sensor was able to discriminate the relative compliance of various rubber samples. © 2012 Su, Fishel, Yamamoto and Loeb.
Su, Z., Fishel, J. A., Yamamoto, T., & Loeb, G. E. (2012). Use of tactile feedback to control exploratory movements to characterize object compliance. Frontiers in Neurorobotics, (JULY), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbot.2012.00007