Robotics: Science and Systems XII

Integrated force and distance sensing using elastomer-embedded commodity proximity sensors

Radhen Patel, Nikolaus Correll


We describe a combined force and distance sensor using a commodity infrared distance sensor embedded in a transparent elastomer with applications in robotic manipulation. Prior to contact, the sensor works as a distance sensor (0–10 cm), whereas after contact the material doubles as a spring, with force proportional to the compression of the elastomer (0– 5 N). We describe its principle of operation and de- sign parameters, including polymer thickness, mixing ratio, and emitter current, and show that the sensor response has an inflection point at contact that is independent of an object’s surface properties. We then demonstrate how two arrays of eight sensors, each mounted on a standard Baxter gripper, can be used to (1) improve gripper alignment during grasping, (2) determine contact points with objects, and (3) obtain crude 3D models that can serve to determine possible grasp locations.



    AUTHOR    = {Radhen Patel AND Nikolaus Correll}, 
    TITLE     = {Integrated force and distance sensing using elastomer-embedded commodity proximity sensors}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2016}, 
    ADDRESS   = {AnnArbor, Michigan}, 
    MONTH     = {June}, 
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2016.XII.035}