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A Fingertip Sensor Lets Robots ‘See’ What They Touch

Robotic Fingertip Sensor

We’ve seen robotics improve by (literal) leaps and bounds recently, but what about more nuanced things, like a fine sense of touch? Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University are showing off a new fingertip version of the GelSight sensor, a cube-shaped attachment that uses a camera and a sensitive rubber film to 3D map the objects they’re grabbing. That new level of precision, the team says, could lead to more independent robots that are better able to manipulate their environment. In the team’s demo (shown in the video above), a Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics uses its standard sensors to grab a dangling USB cord. At that point, the GelSight sensor attached to the robot’s two-pronged hand susses out the finer details, specifically the raised USB logo embossed on one side of the plug. The sensor’s cube-shaped housing features a thin rubber film covering one side.

Read the full story at Engadget.

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Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.