Robotic Materials mission is to enable human-like manipulation skills and make them accessible to the workforce at large to revolutionize manufacturing from the bottom up. We achieve this by co-designing hand mechanism,  visual and tactile perception, and intuitive user interfaces. Robotic Materials is a spin-off from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has been funded by angles, the state of Colorado and the National Science Foundation’s SBIR program.  We believe that contact sensing is critical for successful manipulation and being able to see an object before contact to be even better.

Why tactile sensing? Robotic manipulation relies on providing sufficient constraints to an object. The problem is that to continue to exert force after contact has been made will induce motion in the object, making it harder to successfully complete the grasp. Robotic Materials sensors  can help here, by allowing the robot to determine the point of zero distance and zero force. At the same time, proximity reading helps to align the gripper/hand with the object before contact is made.

Principle of operation – Our sensors use infrared proximity sensing embedded in transparent, abrasive resistant polymer. In addition to provide the robot with the right amount of “grip” and being easy to clean, this enables proximity sensing at a distance and force sensing due to internal reflection and deformation of the polymer. Changing polymer mixing rates and thickness allows tuning a wide dynamic range and allows robots to handle a large variety of items ranging from highly corrosive to food grade. Using infrared makes RoboticMaterials sensors sensitive to a surface’s color (or better, its reflectivity). Due to change in response from the signal traveling through air or rubber, it is yet possible to detect contact and thereby allows to infer the material properties.

Research – We are closely working with the University of Colorado and our customers to find new applications for RoboticMaterials’ sensors and to push the boundary of robotic sensing. Have you been using our sensors in your project? Let us know! Do you need customized force and proximity sensors for your hands/fingers? Contact us!

Some of our customers:



Scott Thomas, CEO, has 20 years of technology and finance experience from small start-ups to international corporations. His insight includes finding technology partners that multiply strengths to ensure solid growth. In addition to being a partner in building a successful international software producer, he played a key role in the beginning of the STAR airline alliance. Scott Thomas

Nikolaus Correll, CTO, has more than fifteen years of experience in building cutting-edge robotic systems. Nikolaus believes that strong artificial intelligence will be enabled by smart sensors and actuators, that is a tight interplay between a robot’s body and brain, and has founded Robotic Materials Inc. in 2016.  Before that, Nikolaus research has been supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.


Nikolaus Correll