Monday, February 07, 2005

skins for robots

Korean Researchers Develop Skin-Like Tactile Sensor


A South Korean scientific research center said Sunday that it has developed a tactile sensor capable of functioning like human skin.


The left picture shows the letters of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) caught through a tactile sensor functioning like human skin and the right picture is its enlarged image. Scientists from KAIST developed the precision tactile sensor with 1-millimeter spatial resolution.
The tactile sensor is made of polydimethylsiloxane, a synthetic rubber, and has a 1-millimeter spatial resolution capability, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) said.

``Many tactile sensors have been developed so far, but ours has the highest spatial resolution capability, flexibility, softness and extensibility,’’ said Lee Hyung-kyu, who led the development project.

Late last year, the University of Tokyo unveiled a tactile sensor with a spatial resolution capability of 2 millimeters.

Lee said his team will announce the results of their research at an international conference on micro-electro-mechanical systems, to be held early next month in the U.S. city of Miami.

The new sensor is widely expected to lay the foundation for coating humanoids such as South Korea's HUBO or Japan's ASIMO with artificial skin.

HUBO is a humanoid robot recently developed by KAIST. It is capable of moving its fingers independently, dancing and shaking hands with people by using its 41 joints.

Japan's ASIMO, an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, was unveiled in 2000 as the world's most advanced bi-pedal robot.

Through several upgrades, it is now able to spin in the air, bend or twist its torso and maneuver around obstacles in its path.

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