Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

Replicating the familiar sense of human touch is one of the most pressing challenges facing roboticists who are working on improving bionic limps. That problem may soon be solved, however, thanks to a team of researchers that has recently developed a new tactile sensing method that could augment robotic materials made out of soft materials.

So far, engineers have confronted the challenge of artificially replicating the complex biological mechanisms that make the sense of human touch by creating increasingly life-like bionic limbs with bionic soft materials, instead of the conventional, hard, and metallic structures of popular robots. But while soft material-based robotic hands offer impressive advantages in skin-like texture, they tend to lack the ability to collect a wide spectrum of sensory input.

In an effort to overcome this challenge, researchers at Beihang University in Beijing have developed a new sensing technique that involves soft material-based robotic fingers. The technique is centered around proprioception, a biological mechanism that enables mammals to perceive a degree of situational awareness, including position and movement, reports Interesting Engineering.

“The idea behind our recent paper is based on the proprioception framework found in humans, which is what determines our body position and load on our tendons/joints,” explains Chang Chen, one of the researchers.

Together with his colleagues, Chang came up with a prototype system that consists of a linear actuator, a strain sensor, a tendon (cable), and a soft robotic finger. Essentially, the system works by first capturing data from the sensor, and then employing machine learning tools to decode the rigidity and texture of an object or surface touched by the robotic finger.

In tests, the researchers were excited to find that the technique could read stiffness and texture with impressively high levels of accuracy, at 99.7 percent and 100 percent respectively. The findings represent a landmark breakthrough in the pursuit of human-like tactile sensation in bionic limbs, potentially changing the future of prosthetics.

Source study: arXiv: Tactile Sensing with a Tendon-Driven Soft Robotic Finger

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

How the Belize Barrier Reef is coming back to life

When Hurricane Iris hit Belize in 2001, it ravaged almost all of the country’s coral reefs. The devastation signaled bad news not only for the surrounding marine life but also for the local communities who ... Read More

Redwoods grow new leaves to adapt to drought

We’re doing a lot to adapt to climate change, from creating tree cities and sponge cities to speeding up the schedule for renewable energy. As it turns out, though, humans aren’t the only ones getting ... Read More

OnePower: bringing minigrids and power to Lesotho

A key aspect of helping the developing world is not only ensuring that they have sufficient power and infrastructure to run key facilities like schools and hospitals. It is also important to ensure that their ... Read More

Active UK professional footballer comes out as gay—the first in 30 years

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Jake Daniels, a forward for Blackpool FC in England’s second tier, came out publicly as gay in a statement released by the club. According to the British LGBTQ advocacy group Stonewall, ... Read More

Flow batteries could help with renewable energy storage

The generation of renewable energy from sources like wind and solar is one thing, but there are many other factors to consider when delivering renewable energy to consumers. A big one is the issue of ... Read More

Don’t let ADHD prevent you from meditating. Here are 8 tips for mindful...

We’ve written quite often about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but we also recognize that it is sometimes a difficult practice to get into. Meditation is an active process that trains the brain to ... Read More