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A pioneering attempt to develop sophisticated sensors for robotic systems has the potential to revolutionise robotic limbs and prostheses, claims a new study.
The goal of the research project is to create sensors that enhance robot dexterity and motor skills through the use of precise pressure sensors that provide haptic feedback. It is being led by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), Integrated Graphene Ltd., and is funded by the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering (SRPe), the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS), and the Industry Doctorate Programme in Advanced Manufacturing.
The project’s principal investigator, Professor Des Gibson, director of the Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging at UWS, said: “Over the past few years, the robotics industry has seen remarkable advancements, but due to a lack of sensory capabilities, robotic systems frequently fail to easily execute certain tasks. Accurate pressure sensors that are capable of delivering more tactile ability are necessary for robots to function to their full capacity. Advanced pressure sensor technology has been created as a result of our partnership with Integrated Graphene Ltd. and has the potential to revolutionise robotic systems.
The sensors are made of 3D graphene foam, which has special properties when mechanical stress is applied. They employ a piezoresistive approach, which means that when pressure is applied, the material dynamically changes its electric resistance, making it simple to detect and adapt to the range of pressure required, from light to heavy.
Gii, our innovative 3D graphene foam, has the ability to mimic the sensitivity and feedback of human touch, which could have a transformative impact on how robotics can be used for a whole range of real-world applications, from surgery to precision manufacturing, according to Marco Caffio, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Integrated Graphene.
We are always thrilled to have the opportunity to show how flexible Gii is in initiatives like this because we are aware that its special property makes it appropriate for usage in various applications like illness diagnostics and energy storage.
“Within robotics and wearable electronics, the use of pressure sensors is a critical aspect, to provide either an information input system, or to give robotic systems human-like motor skills,” continued Dr. Carlos Garcia Nunez of the School of Computing Engineering and Physical Sciences at UWS. Due to its exceptional electrical, mechanical, and chemical capabilities, cutting-edge material like 3D graphene foam provides significant potential for usage in such applications. Our research highlights the enormous potential of this technology to completely transform the robotics sector by utilising dynamic pressure sensors.
The SRPe-NMIS Industrial Doctorate Programme brings together ground-breaking university research with business partners to advance engineering innovation, said Claire Ordoyno, interim director of SRPe. These collaborative PhD programmes not only improve the Scottish engineering research landscape but also generate PhD graduates with an innovation-focused, industry-ready pipeline.