BioTac Robot's Finger More Sensitive Than Yours
The BioTac robotic finger created by USC roboticists is so sensitive it can identify materials by touch - and do it better than you!
(Amazing robotic touch sensitivity)
The robotic finger's design mimics a real human pinky. So it's got a soft, flexible skin with a fingerprint-like surface, which is wrapped over a liquid filling.
As the finger slides over a textured surface, the skin vibrates. These telltale shudders are detected by a hydrophone inside the core of the finger, and software then matches those vibrations to materials it has on file.
The robot was trained on 117 common materials, sourced from fabric, stationery and hardware shops. That includes textures like paper, wood and sponge.
When confronted with random materials, the robot would make a number of intelligently-selected exploratory movements (like rubs, wiggles and pokes) before identifying the material. It got the answer right 95 percent of the time.
This development in real-life robotics reminds me of the fictional synthetic flesh used on robots like teddy from Brian Aldiss' 1969 novel Super-Toys Last All Summer Long:
"There have been mechanicals on the market with mini-computers for brains - plastic things without life, super-toys - but we have at last found a way to link computer circuitry with synthetic flesh..."
"Our serving-man will be, in many senses, a product of the computer. Without computers, we could never have worked through the sophisticated biochemics that go into synthetic flesh."
Via Wired UK.
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