The world's most practical tactile sensor
Tactile sensors help robots grasp gently and correct errors before they knock objects over. However, to move outside elite research institutions, they need to be less expensive, more robust, and easier to manufacture than current options.
TakkTile's breakthrough technology leverages MEMS barometers to deliver 1-gram sensitivity for a fraction of the cost of existing systems, in a package durable enough it can survive being crushed by a 25-lb weight.
Five sensors cast independently, plus a "traffic cop" microcontroller that allows access to all five over I2C.
Six sensors; three cast independently and three cast as an array. Plus a "traffic cop" microcontroller that allows access to all six over I2C.
A high-speed USB interface for TakkStrips that speaks to Linux — ROS-compatible!
One TakkStrip and one TakkStrip 2 cast in rubber, an interface Arduino, and wires — everything you need to get started.
Tactile sensors that were designed for the fingertips of the Robotiq Adaptive Gripper.
How it Works
RESEARCH ARTICLE: Y.Tenzer, L. P. Jentoft, R. D. Howe Inexpensive and Easily Customized Tactile Array Sensors using MEMS Barometers Chips, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, in press, 2014. Download.
MEMS barometers have found widespread application in consumer mobile devices such as GPS locators, where they are used for altitude calibration.
Because of this, we're able to leverage the same drivers that caused the Kinect to revolutionize Computer Vision — consumer scale applications bring dramatic economies of scale, and the cost savings are maintained when the devices are repurposed to robotic applications.
We have been using the MPL115A2 from Freescale (datasheet here). The chips consist of a MEMS diaphragm with a Wheatstone bridge, a instrumentation amplifier, a temperature sensor, multiplexer, analog-to-digital converter, and I2C bus — all for ~$1 USD
The block diagram below for the MPL115A2 chip is from a datasheet provided by Freescale
This diaphragm is cast under rubber, and vacuum degassed to bring rubber against the diaphragm. This greatly improves consistency and sensitivity.
At RightHand Labs, we aim to maximize the utility of our low-cost yet capable TakkTile sensors through several thrusts:
Community support - There are more applications for this technology than we can explore ourselves, so provide open-source plans and tutorials to enable users to achieve their goals as rapidly as possible.
Hardware sales - Not everyone has the time or inclination to build sensors themselves from scratch, so we provide a series of products that make it faster and simpler to get past "hello world" to the interesting stuff.
Consulting services - Contact the TakkTile team about how we can help reduce the pitfalls and increase the speed of your development
Licensing - The core TakkTile technology is patent-pending. The information released here (plans, etc.) is provided under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. It's free to use in research, but a license is required for commercial applications. Licensing also helps companies protect investment in a new application. Please contact us to discuss.