Soft Robots Augmented with Kinesthetic-Like Sensing

Soft robots are ideal for safe human-robot interactions, manipulating delicate objects, and a lot more. Now, engineers from Disney Research  introduce a computational method for augmenting soft robots with capabilities of proprioceptive sensing, or the sense of self-movement. Called "MakeSense," it is an automated sensor design for proprioceptive soft robots. The method automatically computes a minimal stretch-receptive sensor network to user-provided soft robotic designs, which is optimized to perform well under a set of user-specified deformation-force pairs. The robots can reconstruct their full deformation state under interaction forces. In this video, the researchers demonstrate the technique on a bending bar and gripper, and illustrate more complex designs with a simulated tentacle.