IMPRESS Research Lead Dr Ali Alazmani was selected to dem0onstrate his work on soft sensing at ICRA 2017, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) International Conference on Robotics and Automation, in Singapore in June.
He and his research team at the University of Leeds are developing ultra-high performance soft tactile sensors using flexible coils.
Tactile sensors are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and valuable components in today’s technology. They are instrumental in enabling robotic systems to perform tasks such as interacting safely and effectively with humans and the environment. Equally they offer significant potential for use in modern healthcare systems, including wearable electronics, health monitoring devices and smart surgical instruments for conditions such as incontinence. Compared to the auditory and visual senses, replicating the sense of touch provided by human skin remains challenging, requiring both high compliance (mechanically conform during interaction with objects) and high performance (high resolution, accuracy, and bandwidth). To be effectively applied in real-world environments, tactile sensors should also be durable and robust to survive repeated physical interaction, and to emulate human skin large areas need to be covered with multiple sensing nodes. Sensors meeting these criteria are typically expensive, difficult to fabricate and challenging to integrate into other systems. In the past two decades, new technologies, materials and fabrication techniques have been explored to address these challenges by developing low-cost, high performance, durable tactile sensors. Dr Alazmani’s new sensing system, Inductive Tactile Sensors (ITSs), offers a new direction with the potential to address many of the above challenges.