3D Printable Soft Sensory Fiber Networks for Robust and Complex Tactile Sensing

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The human tactile system is composed of multi-functional mechanoreceptors distributed in an optimized manner. Having the ability to design and optimize multi-modal soft sensory systems can further enhance the capabilities of current soft robotic systems. This work presents a complete framework for the fabrication of soft sensory fiber networks for contact localization, using pellet-based 3D printing of piezoresistive elastomers to manufacture flexible sensory networks with precise and repeatable performances. Given a desirable soft sensor property, our methodology can design and fabricate optimized sensor morphologies without human intervention. Extensive simulation and experimental studies are performed on two printed networks, comparing a baseline network to one optimized via an existing information theory based approach. Machine learning is used for contact localization based on the sensor responses. The sensor responses match simulations with tunable performances and good localization accuracy, even in the presence of damage and nonlinear material properties. The potential of the networks to function as capacitive sensors is also demonstrated.


Peer reviewed: True

Article, soft robotic sensors, 3D printing, machine learning
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European Commission (828818)
EPSRC DTP (EP/R513180/1)