Whole-Arm Tactile Sensing Allows Robots to Maneuver Through Clutter

Georgia Tech researcher Charlie Kemp has developed a new control method that works in tandem with compliant robotic joints and whole-arm tactile sensing. Tactile sensors made out of stretchable, conductive fabric covers the entire arm of a robot. This technology keeps the robot's arm flexible and gives the robot a sense of touch across its entire arm. This method allows robots to intelligently maneuver within clutter - gently making contact with objects while accomplishing a task - and has applications ranging from robots for search-and-rescue operations to assistive robotics for people with disabilities. In a preliminary trial with the new control method and sensors, Henry Evans, a person with quadriplegia, used the robot to perform tasks for himself.