Tactile Sensing: new directions, new challenges

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Over the past three decades, tactile sensing has developed into a sophisticated technology. There has been a longstanding and widely held expectation that tactile sensors would have a major impact on industrial robotics and automation. However, this promise has not been realized, and few, if any, tactile sensors can be found in factorybased applications. Has this technology failed to deliver its expected benefits to robotics applications, or have other factors influenced the development of the field? In this paper, I report on the state of the art and show that tactile sensing has undergone a major change of direction. I revisit the original predictions and expectations, examine the implications of recent reviews, and show how the field has altered course. From current activities and recent trends, I determine the nature of new application areas and pressing developments that hold much promise for the future. There is evidence that tactile sensing will soon play a major role in unstructured environments, particularly in areas such as medicine and surgery, health-care and service robotics, and automated natural product handling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-643
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2000


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