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Sensors 2011, 11(5), 5489-5507; doi:10.3390/s110505489
Article

A Large Area Tactile Sensor Patch Based on Commercial Force Sensors

1,* , 1
, 1
, 1
, 1
, 2
 and 2
1 Department of Electronics, University of Málaga, Málaga 29071, Spain 2 Departamento de Ingeniería de Sistemas y Automática, University of Málaga, Málaga 29071, Spain
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 April 2011 / Revised: 11 May 2011 / Accepted: 17 May 2011 / Published: 19 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

This paper reports the design of a tactile sensor patch to cover large areas of robots and machines that interact with human beings. Many devices have been proposed to meet such a demand. These realizations are mostly custom-built or developed in the lab. The sensor of this paper is implemented with commercial force sensors. This has the benefit of a more foreseeable response of the sensor if its behavior is understood as the aggregation of readings from all the individual force sensors in the array. A few reported large area tactile sensors are also based on commercial sensors. However, the one in this paper is the first of this kind based on the use of polymeric commercial force sensing resistors (FSR) as unit elements of the array or tactels, which results in a robust sensor. The paper discusses design issues related to some necessary modifications of the force sensor, its assembly in an array, and the signal conditioning. The patch has 16 × 9 force sensors mounted on a flexible printed circuit board with a spatial resolution of 18.5 mm. The force range of a tactel is 6 N and its sensitivity is 0.6 V/N. The array is read at a rate of 78 frames per second. Finally, two simple application examples are also carried out with the sensor mounted on the forearm of a rescue robot that communicates with the sensor through a CAN bus.
Keywords: tactile sensors; assistive robots; human-machine interaction; force sensing resistors tactile sensors; assistive robots; human-machine interaction; force sensing resistors
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Vidal-Verdú, F.; Barquero, M.J.; Castellanos-Ramos, J.; Navas-González, R.; Sánchez, J.A.; Serón, J.; García-Cerezo, A. A Large Area Tactile Sensor Patch Based on Commercial Force Sensors. Sensors 2011, 11, 5489-5507.

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