Tactile Robotics

Tactile Robotics

The development of effective systems for artificial touch is crucial for future technology: without human-like tactile dexterity, robots will not be able to solve the physical and interactive tasks envisaged for advanced manufacturing (e.g. autonomous assembly lines), assisted living (e.g. personal robot helpers), food production (e.g. picking and sorting robots) and healthcare (e.g. nursing and surgical robots).

Robots currently have poor tactile capabilities because no one knows how to combine tactile perception and control of action to give a robust sense of active touch. Yet clearly, the problem of active touch has been solved in the human brain and hand. The major aim of the theme of tactile robotics is to create and deploy robots with human-like capabilities to perceive, explore and manipulate their environments via the sense of touch.

Current projects

The TacTip: 3D-printed tactile sensing

Researchers at the University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory have pioneered a biomimetic 3D-printed tactile sensor—the TacTip (Tactile fingertip). This sensor has been in continual development at Bristol Robotics Laboratory for a decade, driving novel research in Medical Robotics, Soft Robotics and Tactile Robotics.

Tactile superresolution sensing (EPSRC)

Tactile superresolution is a key enabling technology for existing tactile sensors to operate sensitivities sufficient for deployment in application areas such as healthcare technologies and manufacturing the future.

Neuromorphic tactile sensing (EPSRC Impact Acceleration)

Neuromorphic technology can be employed in electronic circuits that mimic the information processing and encoding in neurons of the brain. This project considers applying neuromorphic technology to tactile sensing.

Theme Leader

Soft robotics team

  • Dr Nathan Lepora
  • Prof Jonathan Rossiter
  • Dr Maria-Elena Giannaccini
  • Dr Martin Pearson
  • Dr Benjamin Winstone
  • Ms Kirsty Aquilina
  • Mr Luke Cramphorn
  • Mr Nicholas Pestell
  • Ms Emma Roscow
  • Mr Ben Ward-Cherrier

Page last updated 10 December 2016

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