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Sensitive Tactile Sensor Lets Robotics Work with Fragile Items

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers in the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory have developed an inexpensive tactile sensor for robotic hands that is sensitive enough to enable a robot to gently manipulate fragile items. They designed their TakkTile sensor primarily for users such as commercial inventors, teachers, and robotics enthusiasts. They made the sensor with an air-pressure-sensing barometer, commonly found in cellular phones and GPS units in which it takes altitude measurements. This enables it to detect a very slight touch. The sensor would let a mechanical hand recognize that it is touching a fragile item and enable it to, for example, pick up a balloon without popping it. The researchers say TakkTile could also be used for devices such as toys or surgical equipment. Harvard University officials say the university plans to license the technology. (EurekAlert)(Harvard University)

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