Robots can do a lot of things but, compared to a human, they are remarkably clumsy. This company wants to give robots the right touch.
You have probably tried to locate a light switch in the dark or fish a set of keys out of your pocket recently. Our highly developed sense of touch makes such tasks easy.
Impressive and useful — and taken for granted — touch is not a simple thing to unpack. It remains poorly understood, explains Dr Heba Khamis, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering (UNSW GSBmE).
Khamis is CEO of Contactile, a startup that takes inspiration from the incredibly complex human sense of touch to improve robot dexterity.
Khamis, Contactile co-founder Associate Professor Stephen Redmond, and others had worked on a concept inspired by the papillae in a finger pad and how the finger pad skin deforms during manipulation.
Chief Technical Officer Ben Xia came up with the instrumentation method during his engineering honours thesis project, supervised by Redmond.