Five things to consider for tactile sensing

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About RoboTouch

PPS' RoboTouch Solutions bring leading tactile sensing technology to the world of industrial and consumer robotics. The technology and company were born out of the Robotics Lab at Harvard University over a decade ago with a dream to give robots the Sense of Touch. After years of refinement and proven successes with BarrettHand, Twendy-One, and PR2, RoboTouch Solutions are ready for integration into most any robotic gripper application.

RoboTouch technology gives your robot the ability to manipulate delicate objects without breaking them. They will also be able to operate at optimized low-powers for energy efficiency by using minimized grasp force. The simplicity of our sensor flexibility in customizing patterns to fit nearly any gripper shape.

RoboTouch Solutions can include multiple sensing pads, each with 12-24 sensing elements with SPI or I2C digital interfaces. These can be placed on the location of your choosing including robot fingertips, grippers and palm surfaces. Each individual pad is constructed using our patented capacitive-based pressure sensing technology, ensuring the high sensitivity needed for tactile applications.

Watch this video about PPS tactile sensors in the PR2 at Willow Garage

RoboTouch for BarrettHand

The BH8-series BarrettHand is a multi-fingered programmable grasper with the dexterity to secure target objects of different sizes, shapes, and orientations. The BH8-series immediately multiplies the value of any arm requiring flexible automation. It neatly houses a CPU, software, communications electronics, servo-controllers, and all 4 brushless motors. Of its three multi-jointed fingers, two have an extra degree of freedom with 180 degrees of synchronous lateral mobility supporting a large variety of grasp types.

PPS Enhanced System The RoboTouch BarrettHand System neatly covers all hand-object contact points with 7 sensor pads:
  • 1 Palm Sensor (24 elements at 10x10mm resolution)
  • 3 Mid-Digit Sensors (each with 24 elements at 6x6mm resolution)
  • 3 Finger-Tip Sensors (each with 22 elements at 6x6mm resolution)

RoboTouch systems feature the same quality performance as found in our other DigiTacts sensors. RoboTouch combines multiple DigiTacts Array modules into a single, integrated unit that can be accessed via I2C in embedded applications or via USB for PC-based acquisition and control systems.

TireTread Measurement thumbnail page link
Download RoboTouch for BarrettHand spec sheet

RoboTouch for Personal Robot 2

The RoboTouch for PR2 sensors were designed for use with the WillowGarage PR2 open-source robot hardware platform. These sensors were designed to the specific shape of PR2's simple yet capable robotic gripper. Using SPI Interface, 22 tactile sensing elements cover all possible contact surfaces for the PR2 robotic gripper.

The full system assembly includes the gripper, the sensors, and a durable, non-slip covering.

RoboTouch for Twendy-One

Last but certainly not least, PPS worked with Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan to embed high performance tactile sensors into the hands of their famous human symbiotic robot, Twendy-One. She can pick up a loaf of bread without crushing it, serve toast, and even crack an egg. This dexerity and "gentle touch" (minimal grasp force) can be attributed to the 241 RoboTouch sensors integrates into each of Twendy-One's hands.

Video: RoboTouch in Action

The following video clips show the benefits of RoboTouch technology.


RoboTouch WillowGarage
RoboTouch Twendy-One
Contact PPS today to find out how our sensor products and systems can enhance your products and solutions.