Using an array of optical detectors, engineers have created a touch-sensitive robotic hand able to determine a tomato’s ripeness by touch alone.
Developed by a team from Cornell University, the prototype soft prosthetic hand is equipped with a system of photosensors and LEDs embedded in flexible tubes. These sensor-laden tubes, which are able to detect force, curvature and elongation, were then built into the soft robotic hand. Since the sensors are on the inside of the ‘body,’ rather than on the surface like most robots, they can detect the forces as they are transmitted through the robot’s ‘skin.’
The team hopes that eventually the technology could lead to both more sensitive prosthetic hands as well as more sensitive soft robots able to work safely near humans.