MIT Touches the Future with Next Generation Tactile Robotic Skin

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is using an advanced sensor system to develop the next level of robots.  By incorporating Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) technology into a robot's skin, MIT hopes to build a robot that can interact with humans via touch.  QTC, from Peratech Limited, is a new class of electrically conductive material that has been developed to advance the capability of switching and sensing systems.  As the Peratech website states:  "QTC can be tailored to suit different force, pressure, or touch sensing applications – from sensing feather-light or finger operation to heavy pressure applications, and that is why QTC is so perfect for the next tactile robot."

See the related story from Myra Per-Lee at to read about the most advanced bionic hand.

QTC Robotics

Image Credit:  Peratech Limited

QTC Pressure Sensing Material

Image Credit:  Peratech Limited

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will create the first robot that will enable a human to interact with it through touch, much as they would another human. Last week, MIT commissioned the British company Peratech to develop its next generation tactile robotic skin to accomplish its goal.



Optical Sensors Give Robots’ Artificial Skin with Smooth Touch

An article posted at details the research of Belgium researchers who have developed a new type of artificial skin for robots.  This skin will be able to provide robots with a delicate touch more like a human’s.  The primary applications for this development will be in the area of surgical robots.  Future medical robots will be able to perform more delicate and extensive surgeries than current models.  What makes this skin possible is the use of optical sensors rather than the electomechanical type used now.  Besides the article linked to above, Popular Science has the story.  Check out the links below.

Popular Science

Optical Sensors in Robots' Skin Give Them A Softer Touch
Popular Science
Thankfully, researchers at the University of Ghent, Belgium, have solved the problem of delicate robot touch. Unlike the mechanical sensors currently used
and more »

Optical Sensors in Robots' Skin Give Them A Softer Touch – Popular Science
(author unknown)
Tue, 01 Dec 2009 22:58:26 GMT

Robotic Rat Follow-up

Spotted this follow-up article on the Scratchbot covered here several months ago.  In this update, the robot is showing off its abilities to search-out objects by touch.  No vision system is used.  This is a very novel approach and could have many search and rescue applications where the lack of light is an issue.  Check out the link below and also look at the video at the Electronics Weekly website.


Credit:  Bristol Robotics Laboratory and University of Sheffield via

… to damage and injury than whiskers. Rats have the ability to operate with damaged whiskers, and broken whiskers on robots could be easily replaced, without affecting the whole robot and its expensive engineering. This award is a welcome recognition …

Robotic 'rat' could become a lifesaver
(author unknown)
Mon, 30 Nov 2009 11:40:44 GMT

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