Walking on TacTip toes: A tactile sensing foot for walking robots

08/12/2020
by   Elizabeth A. Stone, et al.
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Little research into tactile feet has been done for walking robots despite the benefits such feedback could give when walking on uneven terrain. This paper describes the development of a simple, robust and inexpensive tactile foot for legged robots based on a high-resolution biomimetic TacTip tactile sensor. Several design improvements were made to facilitate tactile sensing while walking, including the use of phosphorescent markers to remove the need for internal LED lighting. The usefulness of the foot is verified on a quadrupedal robot performing a beam walking task and it is found the sensor prevents the robot falling off the beam. Further, this capability also enables the robot to walk along the edge of a curved table. This tactile foot design can be easily modified for use with any legged robot, including much larger walking robots, enabling stable walking in challenging terrain.

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