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Sensors 2018, 18(2), 569; doi:10.3390/s18020569

Touch Locating and Stretch Sensing Studies of Conductive Hydrogels with Applications to Soft Robots

School of Electronics and Information Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 201804, China
School of Chemical Science and Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 January 2018 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Soft robots possess great potential in environmental adaptations, while their environmental sensing abilities are critical. Conductive hydrogels have been suggested to possess sensing abilities. However, their application in soft robots is lacking. In this work, we fabricated a soft and stretchable gel material, introduced its sensing mechanisms, and developed a measurement setup. Both experimental and simulation studies indicate strong nonlinearity of touch locating on a square touch panel with Cartesian coordinates. To simplify the touch locating, we proposed a touch locating system based on round touch panels with polar coordinates. Mathematical calculations and finite element method (FEM) simulations showed that in this system the locating of a touch point was only determined by its polar radius. This was verified by experimental studies. As a resistor, a gel strip’s resistance increases with stretching. To demonstrate their applications on soft robots, a 3D printed three-fingered soft gripper was employed with gel strips attached. During finger bending for rod grasping, the resistances of the gel strips increased, indicating stretching of the soft material. Furthermore, the strain and stress of a gel strip increased with a decrease of the rod diameter. These studies advance the application of conductive hydrogels on soft robots. View Full-Text
Keywords: intelligent material; soft robots; sensing; 3D printing; driving–sensing integration intelligent material; soft robots; sensing; 3D printing; driving–sensing integration

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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhou, Y.; He, B.; Yan, Z.; Shang, Y.; Wang, Q.; Wang, Z. Touch Locating and Stretch Sensing Studies of Conductive Hydrogels with Applications to Soft Robots. Sensors 2018, 18, 569.

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