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Sensors (Basel). 2009;9(5):3161-83. doi: 10.3390/s90503161. Epub 2009 Apr 27.

Artificial Roughness Encoding with a Bio-inspired MEMS- based Tactile Sensor Array.

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  • 1ARTS Lab - Advanced Robotics Technology and Systems Laboratory, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Polo Sant'Anna Valdera / Viale Rinaldo Piaggio 34, 56025 Pontedera, PI, Italy; E-Mails: oddoc@sssup.it (C.M. O.); f.giovacchini@arts.sssup.it (F. G.); carrozza@sssup.it (M.C. C.).


A compliant 2×2 tactile sensor array was developed and investigated for roughness encoding. State of the art cross shape 3D MEMS sensors were integrated with polymeric packaging providing in total 16 sensitive elements to external mechanical stimuli in an area of about 20 mm(2), similarly to the SA1 innervation density in humans. Experimental analysis of the bio-inspired tactile sensor array was performed by using ridged surfaces, with spatial periods from 2.6 mm to 4.1 mm, which were indented with regulated 1N normal force and stroked at constant sliding velocity from 15 mm/s to 48 mm/s. A repeatable and expected frequency shift of the sensor outputs depending on the applied stimulus and on its scanning velocity was observed between 3.66 Hz and 18.46 Hz with an overall maximum error of 1.7%. The tactile sensor could also perform contact imaging during static stimulus indentation. The experiments demonstrated the suitability of this approach for the design of a roughness encoding tactile sensor for an artificial fingerpad.


MEMS tactile sensor array; bio-inspired sensor; dynamic touch; roughness encoding; static contact imaging

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