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Soft Biomimetic Optical Tactile Sensing with the TacTip: A Review
  • Nathan Lepora
Nathan Lepora
University of Bristol

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Reproducing the capabilities of the human sense of touch in machines is an important step in enabling robot manipulation to have the ease of human dexterity. A combination of robotic technologies will be needed, including soft robotics, biomimetics and the high-resolution sensing offered by optical tactile sensors. This combination is considered here as a SoftBOT (Soft Biomimetic Optical Tactile) sensor. This article reviews the BRL TacTip as a prototypical example of such a sensor. Topics include the relation between artificial skin morphology and the transduction principles of human touch, the nature and benefits of tactile shear sensing, 3D printing for fabrication and integration into robot hands, the application of AI to tactile perception and control, and the recent step-change in capabilities due to deep learning. This review consolidates those advances from the past decade to indicate a path for robots to reach human-like dexterity.
01 Oct 2021Published in IEEE Sensors Journal volume 21 issue 19 on pages 21131-21143. 10.1109/JSEN.2021.3100645