Micromachines (Nov 2018)

Development of Flexible Robot Skin for Safe and Natural Human–Robot Collaboration

  • Gaoyang Pang,
  • Jia Deng,
  • Fangjinhua Wang,
  • Junhui Zhang,
  • Zhibo Pang,
  • Geng Yang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 11
p. 576


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For industrial manufacturing, industrial robots are required to work together with human counterparts on certain special occasions, where human workers share their skills with robots. Intuitive human⁻robot interaction brings increasing safety challenges, which can be properly addressed by using sensor-based active control technology. In this article, we designed and fabricated a three-dimensional flexible robot skin made by the piezoresistive nanocomposite based on the need for enhancement of the security performance of the collaborative robot. The robot skin endowed the YuMi robot with a tactile perception like human skin. The developed sensing unit in the robot skin showed the one-to-one correspondence between force input and resistance output (percentage change in impedance) in the range of 0⁻6.5 N. Furthermore, the calibration result indicated that the developed sensing unit is capable of offering a maximum force sensitivity (percentage change in impedance per Newton force) of 18.83% N−1 when loaded with an external force of 6.5 N. The fabricated sensing unit showed good reproducibility after loading with cyclic force (0⁻5.5 N) under a frequency of 0.65 Hz for 3500 cycles. In addition, to suppress the bypass crosstalk in robot skin, we designed a readout circuit for sampling tactile data. Moreover, experiments were conducted to estimate the contact/collision force between the object and the robot in a real-time manner. The experiment results showed that the implemented robot skin can provide an efficient approach for natural and secure human⁻robot interaction.