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

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TRI Authors: Alex Alspach, Kunimatsu Hashimoto, Naveen Kuppuswarny and Russ Tedrake

All Authors: A. Alspach, K. Hashimoto, N. Kuppuswarny and R. Tedrake

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. Read More

Citation: Alspach, Alex, Kunimatsu Hashimoto, Naveen Kuppuswarny, and Russ Tedrake. "Soft-bubble: A highly compliant dense geometry tactile sensor for robot manipulation." In 2019 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), pp. 597-604. IEEE, 2019.