Tactile Robotic Finger Uses Optics for Multicurved Surfaces

Engineering researchers from Columbia University  introduce a new type of robotic finger with a sense of touch. The finger can localize touch with very high precision of less than 1mm over a large, multicurved surface. The team used overlapping signals from light emitters and receivers embedded in a transparent waveguide layer that covers the functional areas of the finger. The finger has more than 30 photodiodes that measure how the light bounces around. The team also designed this data to be processed by machine learning algorithms. The result is a fully integrated, sensorized robot finger, with a low wire count, built using accessible manufacturing methods, and designed for easy integration into dexterous hands.