Soft Robotics Market to Propel Forward as a Team Creates First-of-its-Kind Robotic Sensor that could help Create Thermo Sensitive Soft Robots

Posted On April 16, 2022     

Psychologists state that vision is the primary means through which people get information about their surroundings. However, the haptic sense is the natural alternative when visual perception is hindered. Even if one's vision remains unaffected, the sensation of touch frequently functions in tandem with visual perception.

A world-first is being touted for a new robotic sensor that mimics the instinctive human reaction to heat. This device was created by a professional team and is the first sensor in the robotics field to activate this sensory impulse. The wireless, Wi-Fi-connected sensor might have a wide range of real-world uses, including space exploration and surgical procedures. Further, it could also contribute to the Soft Robotics Market as it could potentially lead to the creation of "thermo-sensitive soft robots in the near future. This functionality could be important for soft robots in search and rescue, industrial applications, and space missions to operate similarly to humans' withdrawal reflex when touching hot materials.

The device is very reliable as it can detect temperature fluctuations of 30 degrees Celsius per second. This is similar to how a person would quickly remove their palm away from a flame.

A GelSight sensor (name of the technology designed) offers a very detailed visual 3D topography of any surface. This is done by processing touch signals. It uses a sensor and a camera to offer digital feedback based on what it touches.
Previous research has shown that a GelSight sensor can assist a robotic arm in gripping items more efficiently. This could be critical in robot-assisted surgery. A basic £1 cosmetic pad—the kind used to apply make-up—was utilized to construct an ultra-low-cost version of a GelSight sensor, making the technology highly accessible to a wide range of sectors.

The goal of this new study was to adapt the GelSight sensor to react to severe temperatures. It accomplished this by employing so-called thermochromic paint, which changes color in response to temperature variations. It, however, returns to its original state once the temperature is reversed. It's also, crucially, very affordable.

The team was able to measure a response time of 643 ms for cold-to-hot and hot-to-cold for Haptic Primary Colors"—i.e., vibration, temperature, and force —such as being able to capture someone's pulse. Furthermore, this novel sensor has been enhanced to the point where it can detect all three. The visuotactile sensor's quick temperature response is equivalent to the human autonomic system's less than one second time withdrawal reflex response to excessive heat. In the near future, the sensor could enable robots to react like humans, allowing for the creation of thermosensitive soft robots.

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