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Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Tactile Sensor for Robotic Finger Tips

Next generation robots are expected to interact safely with humans and in real-world environments. The ability to touch and sense objects and living things will be critical in many robotics applications. In the future robots will need very sensible tactile sensors to estimate touch related properties like shape, texture, hardness, material type etc. A new tactile sensor technology developed at MIT might provide super-sensitivity for robot fingers.
By combining a clever physical interface with computer-vision algorithms, researchers in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have created a simple, portable imaging system that can achieve resolutions previously possible only with large and expensive lab equipment. The device could provide manufacturers with a way to inspect products too large to fit under a microscope and could also have applications in medicine, forensics, biometrics and next generation robotics.
Start-up company GelSight, Inc. provides extremely detailed and rapid surface measurements through  the novel GelSight elastomeric technology for tactile sensing, called GelSight, which converts touch to images, and which opens up new possibilities in sensing 3D microscale topography.
Brains behind GelSight
The brains behind the new technology and co-founders of GelSight are Edward Adelson, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science at MIT, in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Micah Kimo Johnson, former research scientist at MIT.
The video below demonstrates the range of performance that can be achieved with various configurations of the GelSight sensor.

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