Stretchable optical 'lace' gives robots heightened sensory ability: Page 2 of 2

September 13, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Stretchable optical 'lace' gives robots heightened sensory ability
Using a 3D-printed elastomer structure with stretchable embedded light guides, researchers from Cornell University were able to develop what amounts to a distributed, volumetric tactile sensing network that could enable soft robots to interact with their environment with a high tactile resolution.

Although the paper reports a minimum and maximum readable force of 1.5N and 5N respectively for the first OL scaffold experiment, the researchers note that the structure design could easily be tuned for different sensitivity and dynamic force ranges, using a different lattice geometry.


Examples of an optical lace without the scaffold structure,
showing light coupling (circled in red) in a 2D array (top),
and a practical experiment (bottom), pressing the 3D-printed
soft scaffolding with embedded optical channels yields a
detectable light coupling.

The lace itself, without being encapsulated in a lattice, had a minimum detectable force of 0.06N, but again, maybe it could be designed thinner and with a softer material. According to ballistic tests (shooting a small projectile at the innerved scaffold), measurable deformation rates go up to at least 46kHz with measurable impulses between 0.2 and 2.5ms.

The authors also anticipate they could further improve the positional accuracy of their tactile sensor network by changing the output geometries to be flatter and overlapping, with narrower light guides. Even a single input could innervate a large volume as long as higher power LEDs or more sensitive photodetectors are used.

Next, they want to take advantage of the higher information density that can be carried through optical systems to create integrated sensorimotor networks, combining not only deformation sensing but also temperature, humidity, and chemical monitoring.

Cornell University - www.cornell.edu

 

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