© 2013

Robotic Tactile Sensing

Technologies and System


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XX
  2. Technologies And System

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 3-12
    3. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 13-17
    4. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 19-41
    5. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 43-78
    6. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 79-136
  3. Integrated Tactile Sensing

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 137-137
    2. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 139-152
    3. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 153-175
    4. Ravinder S. Dahiya, Maurizio Valle
      Pages 177-194
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 195-245

About this book


Future robots are expected to work closely and interact safely with real-world objects and humans alike. Sense of touch is important in this context, as it helps estimate properties such as shape, texture, hardness, material type and many more; provides action related information, such as slip detection; and helps carrying out actions such as rolling an object between fingers without dropping it. This book presents an in-depth description of the solutions available for gathering tactile data, obtaining aforementioned tactile information from the data and effectively using the same in various robotic tasks. Better integration of tactile sensors on a robot’s body is prerequisite for the effective utilization of tactile data. For this reason, the hardware, software and application related issues (and resulting trade-offs) that must be considered to make tactile sensing an effective component of robotic platforms are discussed in-depth.To this end, human touch sensing has also been explored. The design hints coming out of the investigations into human sense of touch can be useful in improving the effectiveness of tactile sensory modality in robotics and other machines. 

The concept of semiconductor devices based sensors or solid-state sensorss is an interesting one, as it allows compact and fast tactile sensing systems with capabilities such as human-like spatio-temporal resolution. This book presents a comprehensive description of semiconductor devices based tactile sensing. In particular, novel Piezo Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (POSFET) based approach for high resolution tactile sensing has been discussed in detail. Finally, the extension of semiconductors devices based sensors concept to large and flexile areas has been discussed for obtaining robotic or electronic skin. With its multidisciplinary scope, this book is suitable for graduate students and researchers coming from diverse areas such robotics (bio-robots, humanoids, rehabilitation etc.), applied materials, humans touch sensing, electronics, microsystems, and instrumentation. To better explain the concepts the text is supported by large number of figures.


Electronic Skin POSFET Soft Robotics Solid-State Sensors Tactile Sensing

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Centre for Materials and MicrosystemsIstituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)TrentoItaly
  2. 2.Dpt. Biophysical & Electr. EngineeringUniversity of GenovaGenovaItaly

About the authors

R. S. Dahiya is a Marie Curie fellow at Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy. He received PhD in humanoid technologies from University of Genoa and Italian Institute of Technology, Italy. He was awarded University Gold Medal and received best paper awards on two occasions in IEEE sponsored national and international conferences. His research interests include electronic skin, tactile sensing, flexible electronics and sensors, and Microsystems.  Dr. Dahiya is the author of more than 60 scientific papers. He has edited two special journal issues on the topics covered in this book. He has worked on many national and European projects. He has also been the leader of individual and multi-partner European Commission funded projects.

M. Valle is associate professor in electronics at Faculty of Engineering, University of Genoa. He coordinates the microelectronics lab at DITEN. He has supervised many research projects funded by local, national and European funding bodies. His research interests include embedded electronics, microelectronic systems, wireless sensors networks and tactile sensing systems for robots. Prof. Valle is author of more than 150 scientific papers.

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Ravinder S. Dahiya and Maruizio Valle, Springer-Verlag, New York, 2013, 245 Pages. This book focuses on tactile sensing in robotics. Designing a robotic system that can successfully and safely integrate with human-centered society requires careful attention to this topic. To be as capable and aware of our environment as we are, humans use tactile information at many levels. Removing or altering any feature of our tactile system (through injury or disease) tends to reduce our capabilities tremendously, often severely impairing locomotion or manipulation.

For example, there is a case described in this book in which a patient lost most of his sense of touch (all kinesthetic and most cutaneous sensations) due to an unfortunate neural disease, and he collapsed on the floor as a result when attempting to stand, unable to control his joints, often striking himself by  accident. Considering that most robots have little or no sense of touch, and certainly nothing at the level of a human, we begin to analyze why they are so limited in capability (and why they have yet to be successfully integrated into society as service robots).

But how can we measure and process the massively complex and highdimensional tactile information? How can this information be integrated into control algorithms, and why should we as designers even go through the effort? This book offers insightful answers to these and many other related questions. It provides an excellent perspective on this complex topic, bringing together hardware, theory, design, and application seamlessly.

This book is composed of eight chapters and three appendices. In addition, this book is broken into two parts: 1) technologies and systems (Chapters 1–5) and 2) integrated tactile sensing (Chapters 6–8). The authors created a logical flow, beginning with careful motivation in Chapter 1 as to why the sense of touch is important, as well as carefully defining touch and tactile sensing in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the physiology and neurophysiology of tactile sense in humans, providing a motivation for the requirements laid out in Chapter 4. There are a number of ways to measure tactile information, and Chapter 5 describes several methods, including resistive, capacitive, optical, magnetic, ultrasonic, and piezoelectric measurement. Chapter 6 (the beginning of Part II) describes integrated tactile sensing on silicon, while Chapters 7 and 8 describe piezoelectricoxide- semiconductor-field-effect-transistor- based tactile sensing chips. The appendices offer reviews of the fundamentals of  piezoelectricity, modeling of piezoelectric polymers, and the design of high-input-impedance charge/voltage amplifiers suitable for these sensors. There are many useful references provided at the end of each chapter, and the index and table of contents are quite helpful in navigating the information. This book is clearly organized and well developed.

Anyone could find this book very informative and readable. At times, there can be a high information density, but there is quite a bit to go through. It is not a heavily equation-based book, which aids in the readability and flow. This book can be useful as a reference, a textbook, or for those looking to expand their understanding of the current and future state of the art in robotic tactile sensing. Overall, Robotic Tactile Sensing: Technologies and System provides an excellent presentation of the increasingly significant and rapidly developing topic of providing the tactile sense to robots.

—Reviewed by
Alex Simpkins, Ph.D., San Diego, California