Design of a flexible tactile sensor for classification of rigid and deformable objects

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

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For both humans and robots, tactile sensing is important for interaction with the environment: it is the core sensing used for exploration and manipulation of objects. In this paper, we present a novel tactile-array sensor based on flexible piezoresistive rubber.We describe the design of the sensor and data
acquisition system.We evaluate the sensitivity and robustness of the sensor, and show that it is consistent over time with little relaxation. Furthermore, the sensor has the benefit of being flexible, having a high resolution, it is easy to mount, and simple to manufacture.
We demonstrate the use of the sensor in an active object-classification system. A robotic gripper with two sensors mounted on its fingers performs a palpation procedure on a set of objects. By squeezing an object, the robot actively explores the material properties, and the system acquires tactile information
corresponding to the resulting pressure. Based on a k-nearest neighbor classifier and using dynamic time warping to calculate the distance between different time series, the system is able to successfully classify objects. Our sensor demonstrates similar classification performance to the Weiss Robotics tactile sensor, while having additional benefits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRobotics and Autonomous Systems
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-15
StatePublished - 2014


  • tactile sensing, piezoresistive rubber, tactile object classification, active perception