MIT CSAIL Soft Robotics
MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) researchers have developed soft robotics capable of touching and feeling things. To achieve this and create a human hand-like robot, a new team came equipped them with tactile sensors, made from latex “bladders” (balloons) connected to pressure transducers. These new sensors enable the gripper not only pick up objects as delicate as potato chips, while also classifying them to let it know what it’s picking up. Read more for a video and additional information.

After classifying the objects, these sensors managed to correctly identified 10 objects with over 90 percent accuracy, even when it slipped out of its robotic grip. This gripper uses a tendon-driven mechanism to actuate the fingers, and when tested on various metal objects, the system achieved over 96 percent recognition accuracy.

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Unlike many other soft tactile sensors, ours can be rapidly fabricated, retrofitted into grippers, and show sensitivity and reliability. We hope they provide a new method of soft sensing that can be applied to a wide range of different applications in manufacturing settings, like packing and lifting,” said MIT postdoc Josie Hughes, the lead author on a new paper about the sensors.