Contact Detection and Size Estimation Using a Modular Soft Gripper with Embedded Flex Sensors

Elgeneidy, Khaled and Neumann, Gerhard and Pearson, Simon and Jackson, Michael and Lohse, Niels (2019) Contact Detection and Size Estimation Using a Modular Soft Gripper with Embedded Flex Sensors. In: International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2018), Madrid.

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Contact Detection and Size Estimation Using a Modular Soft Gripper with Embedded Flex Sensors

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Abstract

Grippers made from soft elastomers are able to passively and gently adapt to their targets allowing deformable objects to be grasped safely without causing bruise or damage. However, it is difficult to regulate the contact forces due to the lack of contact feedback for such grippers. In this paper, a modular soft gripper is presented utilizing interchangeable soft pneumatic actuators with embedded flex sensors as fingers of the gripper. The fingers can be assembled in different configurations using 3D printed connectors. The paper investigates the potential of utilizing the simple sensory feedback from the flex and pressure sensors to make additional meaningful inferences regarding the contact state and grasped object size. We study the effect of the grasped object size and contact type on the combined feedback from the embedded flex sensors of opposing fingers. Our results show that a simple linear relationship exists between the grasped object size and the final flex sensor reading at fixed input conditions, despite the variation in object weight and contact type. Additionally, by simply monitoring the time series response from the flex sensor, contact can be detected by comparing the response to the known free-bending response at the same input conditions. Furthermore, by utilizing the measured internal pressure supplied to the soft fingers, it is possible to distinguish between power and pinch grasps, as the contact type affects the rate of change in the flex sensor readings against the internal pressure.

Keywords:soft robotics, Robotics, sensors
Subjects:H Engineering > H730 Mechatronics
H Engineering > H671 Robotics
Divisions:College of Science > School of Computer Science
ID Code:34713
Deposited On:17 Jan 2019 15:25

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