CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has showcased a new type of skin which has been designed to avail a sense of touch and place to soft robotic arms. According to the findings of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, the researchers of CSAIL has built the skin from a kind of material which is used in electromagnetic interference shielding, and has covered a soft robotic trunk with these flexible sensors.
In the structure of the skin, the usually rigid material has been arranged in to a Kirigami configuration after which it was laser-cut and reassembled into chain linked rows in order to extend, bend and hooked to the shape of the robot and make actions with it.
While announcing the research, Daniela L. Rus, the Director of MIT’s CSAIL stated, “Think of your own body: You can close your eyes and reconstruct the world based on feedback from your skin.” As a Roboticist, she added, “We want to design those same capabilities for soft robots.”
The team of researchers has also developed a neural network to proceed for the results and determine the signal that the sensors were collecting from a noise, strengthen by a traditional motion sensing system. According to CSAIL, their team is still exploring new arrangements for the sensor and exercising for the enhancement of neural networks.
Ryan Truby, a postdoc at CSAIL states, “We’re sensorizing soft robots to get feedback for control from sensors, not vision systems, using a very easy, rapid method for fabrication. We want to use these soft robotic trunks, for instance, to orient and control themselves automatically, to pick things up and interact with the world. This is a first step toward that type of more sophisticated automated control.”