Rise of the MACHINE: Robots can now feel TOUCH like humans
Most robots at the moment achieve the touch sensation via motorised means, but a new device allows them to feel their surroundings internally.
Humans, on the other hand, have a senses on their skin which relays information to the brain which gives the sensation of touch.
This is now one step closer to being mimicked in robots after experts from Cornell University developed a “hand structure” which can feel touch internally.
Lead author of the study Huichan Zhao said: “Most robots today have sensors on the outside of the body that detect things from the surface.
“Our sensors are integrated within the body, so they can actually detect forces being transmitted through the thickness of the robot, a lot like we and all organisms do when we feel pain, for example.”
The machine uses stretchable optical waveguides which allow the machine to feel when it is being bent, stretched or feels a force.
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) inside the machine send light throughout it, and when the robot is impacted in any way, less of the light reaches the photodiode – which which gives it the sensation of touch.
Robert Shepherd, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and principal investigator of Organic Robotics Lab, said: “If no light was lost when we bend the prosthesis, we wouldn’t get any information about the state of the sensor.
“The amount of loss is dependent on how it’s bent.”
The group used the machine to perform several tasks, even getting it to rank three tomatoes by how soft they are.