Engineers from the Viterbi School of Engineering, affiliated with the University of Southern California (United States), built robotic hands capable of differentiating textures. According to the BBC, the hands are equipped with touch sensors, called BioTac, which use intelligent algorithms, capable of selecting, monitoring and interpreting what they detect with their mechanical fingers.
Robotic fingers are the same size as a human finger and “fingerprints” on the surface that can feel textures. These fingerprints allow the perception of materials touched by vibrations. When the finger is covered with a flexible “skin” full of fludo, passes over a texture, vibrates in different ways. These vibrations are captured by a sound transmitter located inside the metal fingers.
Thus, the robotic hand detects the type of texture, the shape and the thermal properties of the object, with more precision than the human finger. According to the developers, it can detect 117 common materials with 95% accuracy.
The creators say the technology can be useful in the manufacture of prostheses equipped with the sense of touch. The project was funded by the United States National Academy of Sciences to develop better prosthetic hands for amputees.
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