Robotics: Science and Systems XVIII

Understanding Dynamic Tactile Sensing for Liquid Property Estimation

Hung-Jui Huang, Xiaofeng Guo, Wenzhen Yuan


Humans perceive the world by interacting with objects, which often happens in a dynamic way. For example, a human would shake a bottle to guess its content. However, it remains a challenge for robots to understand many dynamic signals during contact well. This paper investigates dynamic tactile sensing by tackling the task of estimating liquid properties. We propose a new way of thinking about dynamic tactile sensing: by building a light-weighted data-driven model based on the simplified physical principle. The liquid in a bottle will oscillate after a perturbation. We propose a simple physics-inspired model to explain this oscillation and use a high-resolution tactile sensor GelSight to sense it. Specifically, the viscosity and the height of the liquid determine the decay rate and frequency of the oscillation. We then train a Gaussian Process Regression model on a small amount of the real data to estimate the liquid properties. Experiments show that our model can classify three different liquids with 100% accuracy. The model can estimate volume with high precision and even estimate the concentration of sugar-water solution. It is data-efficient and can easily generalize to other liquids and bottles. Our work posed a physically-inspired understanding of the correlation between dynamic tactile signals and the dynamic performance of the liquid. Our approach creates a good balance between simplicity, accuracy, and generality. It will help robots to better perceive liquids in different environments such as kitchens, food factories, and pharmaceutical factories.



    AUTHOR    = {Hung-Jui Huang AND Xiaofeng Guo AND Wenzhen Yuan}, 
    TITLE     = {{Understanding Dynamic Tactile Sensing for Liquid Property Estimation}}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2022}, 
    ADDRESS   = {New York City, NY, USA}, 
    MONTH     = {June}, 
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2022.XVIII.072}