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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Sweater-Wrapped Robots Can Feel, React to Human Touch

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One of the researchers with a sweater-clad robot arm.

Once fitted to the robot's body, RobotSweater can sense the distribution, shape, and force of the contact. It's also more accurate and effective than the visual sensors most robots rely on now.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

The RobotSweater machine-knitted textile "skin" fabricated by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers can sense contact and pressure "to make the robot smarter during its interaction with humans," according to CMU's Changliu Liu.

The fabric includes two layers of conductive yarn containing metallic fibers, with a lace-patterned layer sandwiched between them.

Applying pressure to the fabric causes the yarn to close a circuit, which is read by sensors.

The fabric can be tailored to conform to uneven three-dimensional surfaces.

Liu said the material can cover the robot's entire body so it can sense any possible collisions, which can be especially useful in environments where safety is prioritized.

From Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
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