University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


Smart Skin

Tool Tracking   poly

This project included the development of a stretchable and flexible skinlike sensor, providing both positional and force data while allowing it to conform to nearly arbitrary surfaces. It senses contact over nearly the entire surface, localizes contact position with sub-centimeter accuracy, and provides an estimate of the contact force. Our approach exclusively employs stretchable, flexible materials resulting in accurate position sensing when stretched up to 133%. The skin can be scaled up to arbitrary sizes with only five electrodes and allows real-time processing on a basic microcontroller with no supporting electronics. We designed, implemented, calibrated, and tested a prototype smart skin as a tactile sensor on a robot for sensing unexpected physical interactions. We experimentally demonstrated its utility in collaborative robotic applications by showing its potential to enable safer, more intuitive human-robot interaction. Please see our Youtube Video as well as our ICRA 2015 Paper.