When a person grasps a steering wheel, or when a robot picks up a tool, the action is conveyed through physical contact. We are developing soft sensitive skin that provides high resolution sensing and control of contact events. The new material, called GelSight, is compliant like human skin, but provides superhuman sensitivity and resolution. Robots equipped with GelSight fingertips will have superior abilities in dexterous manipulation in support of manufacturing. They will sense material properties such as the texture and stiffness of fabrics, for use in domestic tasks like doing laundry. GelSight can also be incorporated into a steering wheel surface, allowing the wheel to sense the grasp parameters in great detail, which may help the car to estimate the driver’s alertness, intentions, and overall state.
Ted Adelson, John Leonard