The global site of the UK's leading magazine for automation, motion engineering and power transmission
18 June, 2024

Twitter link

Soft 3D sensor gives robots a sense of touch

21 February, 2022

A Belgian microelectronic sensor specialist has developed tactile 3D sensor for robots that will make their grippers sensitive enough for delicate operations such as picking fruit. The Tactaxis sensor, from Melexis, has a force resolution is 2.7mN – enough to distinguish changes in weight as small as 0.3g. The technology has already been implemented in a functioning prototype.

The tiny (5 x 5mm) sensor incorporates multiple 3D magnetometer “pixels” and is designed to be used in conjunction with a magnet embedded into an elastomer material. It has a soft contact interface, similar to human skin. Even small amounts of force will generate a response.

The sensor is said to be immune from stray magnetic fields that could result in errors. It is also tough enough to cope with harsh conditions. Unlike optically-based tactile sensors, the sensor is completely integrated. It will be possible to produce high volumes of factory-calibrated sensors using semiconductor manufacturing processes, resulting in cost and reliability benefits.

“Robots need a sense of touch to manipulate fragile objects,” explains Melexis’ global innovation manager, Gael Close. “For such applications, we have developed a novel magnetic sensor to accurately measure the contact force – while being robust.

Melexis’ 3D tactile sensor works in conjunction with a magnet

“By exploiting the capabilities of our Triaxis magnetic sensor technology, we have made a significant step forward in robot tactile sensors, providing a rugged and competitive multi-axis sensing solution,” he adds. “We will now use the Tactaxis prototype as the foundation for further development work.”

MelexisTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook 

  • To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Drives & Controls, click here.

    To visit the digital library of past issues, click here

    To subscribe to the magazine, click here



"Do you think that robots create or destroy jobs?"



Most Read Articles