robot

ACES to give robots human-like sense of touch

Artificial Intelligence

ACES to give robots human-like sense of touch


The new electronic skin system has ultra-high responsiveness and robustness to damage, and can be paired with any kind of sensor skin layers to function effectively as an electronic skin. The innovation, achieved by Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee and his team from NUS Materials Science and Engineering, was first reported in prestigious scientific journal Science Robotics on 18 July 2019.

“Humans use our sense of touch to accomplish almost every daily task, such as picking up a cup of coffee or making a handshake. Without it, we will even lose our sense of balance when walking. Similarly, robots need to have a sense of touch in order to interact better with humans, but robots today still cannot feel objects very well,” said Asst Prof Tee.

Faster than the human sensory nervous system

ACES ( Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin ) can detect touches more than 1,000 times faster than the human sensory nervous system. For example, it is capable of differentiating physical contact between different sensors in less than 60 nanoseconds — the fastest ever achieved for an electronic skin technology — even with large numbers of sensors, the NUS ( National University of Singapore ) report stated.

The ACES platform can also be designed to achieve high robustness to physical damage, an important property for electronic skins because they come into the frequent physical contact with the environment.

Smart electronic skins for robots and prosthetics

ACES has a simple wiring system and remarkable responsiveness even with increasing numbers of sensors. These key characteristics will facilitate the scale-up of intelligent electronic skins for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in robots, prosthetic devices and other human machine interfaces.

“Scalability is a critical consideration as big pieces of high performing electronic skins are required to cover the relatively large surface areas of robots and prosthetic devices,” explained Asst Prof Tee. “ACES can be easily paired with any kind of sensor skin layers, for example, those designed to sense temperatures and humidity, to create high performance ACES-enabled electronic skin with an exceptional sense of touch that can be used for a wide range of purposes,” he added.

For instance, pairing ACES with the transparent, self-healing and water-resistant sensor skin layer also recently developed by Asst Prof Tee’s team, creates an electronic skin that can self-repair, like the human skin. This type of electronic skin can be used to develop more realistic prosthetic limbs that will help disabled individuals restore their sense of touch.



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