RoboticMaterials believes that future robots will not just be made of gears, links and joints but mimic the tight integration of sensing, actuation, computation and communication found in natural systems. We focus on providing tactile sensing with super-human capabilities to the robotic industry by providing our patent-pending technology for proximity and force sensing as retro-fit kits for popular robotic platforms including Rethink Robotics Baxter, Kinova arms and RobotiQ grippers. We believe that contact sensing is critical for successful manipulation and being able to see an object before contact to be even better. As properly using the sense of touch for manipulation is not trivial, we are also providing a full-stack perception and manipulation solution based on ROS, PCL, OpenCV and MoveIt!
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. RoboticMaterials 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 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! Want to stay tuned? Subscribe to our newsletter:
|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.|
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.