Soft-bubble: A highly compliant dense geometry tactile sensor for robot manipulation

04/03/2019
by   Alex Alspach, et al.
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Incorporating effective tactile sensing and mechanical compliance is key towards enabling robust and safe operation of robots in unknown, uncertain and cluttered environments. Towards realizing this goal, we present a lightweight, easy-to-build, highly compliant dense geometry sensor and end effector that comprises an inflated latex membrane with a depth sensor behind it. We present the motivations and the hardware design for this Soft-bubble and demonstrate its capabilities through example tasks including tactile-object classification, pose estimation and tracking, and nonprehensile object manipulation. We also present initial experiments to show the importance of high-resolution geometry sensing for tactile tasks and discuss applications in robust manipulation.

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