Chapter 8 — Motion Control

Virtual whiskers - Highly responsive robot collision avoidance

All mammals but humans use whiskers in order to rapidly acquire information about objects in the vicinity of the head. Collisions of the head and objects can be avoided as the contact point is moved from the body surface to the whiskers. Such a behavior is also highly desirable during many robot tasks such as for human-robot interaction. This video shows the use of novel capacitive proximity sensors so that robots can sense when they approach a human (or an object) and react before they actually collide with it. The sensors are flexible and thin so that they feature skin-like properties and can be attached to various robotic links and joint shapes. In comparison to capacitive proximity sensors, the proposed virtual whiskers offer better sensitivity towards small conductive as well as non-conductive objects. Equipped with the new proximity sensors, a seven-joint robot for human-robot interaction tasks demonstrates the efficiency and responsiveness in this video. Reference: T. Schlegl, T. Kröger, A. Gaschler, O. Khatib, H. Zangl: Virtual whiskers - Highly responsive robot collision avoidance, Proc. IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. Intel. Robot. Syst. (IROS), Tokyo (2013)
Thomas Schlegl, Torsten Kröger, Andre Gaschler, Oussama Khatib, Hubert Zangl
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