Navigation Links
Robots get a feel for the world at USC Viterbi
Date:6/18/2012

What does a robot feel when it touches something? Little or nothing until now. But with the right sensors, actuators and software, robots can be given the sense of feel or at least the ability to identify different materials by touch.

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering published a study today in Frontiers in Neurorobotics showing that a specially designed robot can outperform humans in identifying a wide range of natural materials according to their textures, paving the way for advancements in prostheses, personal assistive robots and consumer product testing.

The robot was equipped with a new type of tactile sensor built to mimic the human fingertip. It also used a newly designed algorithm to make decisions about how to explore the outside world by imitating human strategies. Capable of other human sensations, the sensor can also tell where and in which direction forces are applied to the fingertip and even the thermal properties of an object being touched.

Like the human finger, the group's BioTac sensor has a soft, flexible skin over a liquid filling. The skin even has fingerprints on its surface, greatly enhancing its sensitivity to vibration. As the finger slides over a textured surface, the skin vibrates in characteristic ways. These vibrations are detected by a hydrophone inside the bone-like core of the finger. The human finger uses similar vibrations to identify textures, but the robot finger is even more sensitive.

When humans try to identify an object by touch, they use a wide range of exploratory movements based on their prior experience with similar objects. A famous theorem by 18th century mathematician Thomas Bayes describes how decisions might be made from the information obtained during these movements. Until now, however, there was no way to decide which exploratory movement to make next. The article, authored by Professor of Biomedical Engineering Gerald Loeb and recently graduated doctoral student Jeremy Fishel, describes their new theorem for solving this general problem as "Bayesian Exploration."

Built by Fishel, the specialized robot was trained on 117 common materials gathered from fabric, stationery and hardware stores. When confronted with one material at random, the robot could correctly identify the material 95% of the time, after intelligently selecting and making an average of five exploratory movements. It was only rarely confused by pairs of similar textures that human subjects making their own exploratory movements could not distinguish at all.

So, is touch another task that humans will outsource to robots? Fishel and Loeb point out that while their robot is very good at identifying which textures are similar to each other, it has no way to tell what textures people will prefer. Instead, they say this robot touch technology could be used in human prostheses or to assist companies who employ experts to assess the feel of consumer products and even human skin.

Loeb and Fishel are partners in SynTouch LLC, which develops and manufactures tactile sensors for mechatronic systems that mimic the human hand. Founded in 2008 by researchers from USC's Medical Device Development Facility, the start-up is now selling their BioTac sensors to other researchers and manufacturers of industrial robots and prosthetic hands.


'/>"/>

Contact: Katie Dunham
knd@usc.edu
213-740-3992
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. 7th World Congress for Rett Syndrome to convene in New Orleans, La., June 22-26
2. Worlds leading coral experts to gather in Australia
3. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
4. New paper examines poison resistance in snakes around the world
5. Global Information Inc. Announces Discounted Conference Registration For Bio-IT World Asia and Biodetection Technologies 2012
6. MedNet Solutions to Demonstrate Its Innovative Suite of eClinical Solutions at the 2012 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo
7. Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world
8. Botanical institutions announce plans to create first online World Flora
9. Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change envisions the good life in a harsher world
10. Different recipes for success in the world of plants
11. Camera trap video offers rare glimpse of worlds rarest gorilla
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/6/2017)... Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), Biometrics, Card-Based ... & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities / Energy ... Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), Hospitality & ... for a definitive report on the $27.9bn Access Control ... ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast ... the primary factor for the growth of the stem ... https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4807905/ MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell ... application, and geography. The stem cell market of the ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, ... Hack the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters ... two-day competition will focus on developing health and wellness ... Hack the Genome is the first ... tremendous. The world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Dr. Asher Kimchi, Founder and Chairman of the International ... at the 22nd World Congress on Heart Disease held in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In ... Distinguished Fellowship Awards. , Dr. Asher Kimchi, together with Co-Chairmen Dr. John A. Elefteriades ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... and PLYMOUTH, Minn., July 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... , a personalized genetic evaluations company, today announced ... their partnership investigating a genetic mutation implicated in ... extend the partnership for a second case involving ... year, the KCNQ2 Cure Alliance and Pairnomix entered ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... , ... Sourcing custom glass or quartz parts can be a daunting task. ... execute your job can take many hours of emails, phone calls and on-line research. ... showcase the company’s capabilities and core custom categories, and enables you to start the ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Allotrope Foundation won the 2017 ... of the Allotrope Framework for commercial use. , The Bio-IT World Best Practices ... elevate the critical role of information technology in modern biomedical research, but also ...
Breaking Biology Technology: