[ros-users] PR2 fingertip sensor based grasping

Gerald Loeb gloeb at usc.edu
Sun Jun 19 16:08:17 UTC 2011

We may have a useful technology for the application of grasping clothing articles.  The BioTac sensors developed in my lab have a biomimetic design like biological fingertips, with a deformable skin that is highly sensitive to pressure, slip and textures.  It is now commercially available from SynTouch LLC in Los Angeles:  www.SynTouchLLC.com  (full disclosure - I and some of my students are principals in the company).  The website illustrates the principles of transduction that might be application:
- There is a pressure sensor in the fluid path that can detect both DC pressure changes and very small pressure fluctuations up to 1kHz (it is essentially a hydrophone).
- The compliant skin has fingerprint ridges that amplify the vibrations associated with slip over textured surfaces, resulting in sensitivity vs. frequency similar to Pacinian corpuscles.
- Both normal and tangential forces can be extracted from changes in the impedances measured through the fluid by an array of electrodes on the surface of the rigid core; sensitivity is around 30mN.

Nick Wettels, who recently finished his Ph.D. with me and is now COO of SynTouch, has some experience with the BioTac on the Robonaut2 for handling deformable materials, but we are still in the early days of developing algorithms to take advantage of the various sensing modalities afforded by the BioTac.

Gerald E. Loeb, M.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director of the Medical Device Development Facility
University of Southern California
Denney Research Building, Rm. B11
1042 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1112
office tel. 213-821-5311
cell 213-944-2283
personal web page: http://bme.usc.edu/gloeb
email: gloeb at usc.edu

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