Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have integrated fiber optic sensors into a three-fingered robotic hand yielding a tactile sensing robotic hand. The underlying hand structure is composed of 3-D printed plastic and each finger has three distinct parts imitating the three phalanges of a human finger. The stiff 3D matrix is covered with a soft silicone skin. Each finger contains 14 strain sensors enabling the robotic hand to detect points of contact. The fiber optic strain sensors work by detecting changes in the reflected light’s wavelength caused by an applied strain.
While conventional optical sensors are not affected by electromagnetic interference, most are not stretchable. This limits the development of robotic hands and prostheses as sensors must be able to endure multi-directional deformations. To this end, researchers at CMU and the University of Texas have collaborated to create a new stretchable fiber optic sensor. The waveguides are composed of silicone material and are plated with reflective gold. Strain-induced cracks in the gold layer result in loss of light, which can be correlated with the applied strain.
Here’s video demonstrating the stretchable optical sensors:
Source: Carnegie Mellon…