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Tactile sensing for surgical and collaborative robots and robotic grippers

Robert Bogue (Independent Researcher, Okehampton, UK)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 2 April 2019

Issue publication date: 12 April 2019



This paper aims to illustrate the increasingly important role played by tactile sensing in robotics by considering three specific fields of application.


Following a short introduction, this paper first provides details of tactile sensing principles, technologies, products and research. The following sections consider tactile sensing applications in robotic surgery, collaborative robots and robotic grippers. Finally, brief conclusions are drawn.


Tactile sensors are the topic of an extensive and technologically diverse research effort, with sensing skins attracting particular attention. Many products are now available commercially. New generations of surgical robots are emerging which use tactile sensing to provide haptic feedback, thereby eliminating the surgeon’s total reliance on visual control. Many collaborative robots use tactile and proximity sensing as key safety mechanisms and some use sensing skins. Some skins can detect both human proximity and physical contact. Sensing skins that can be retrofitted have been developed. Commercial tactile sensors have been incorporated into robotic grippers, notably anthropomorphic types, and allow the handling of delicate objects and those with varying shapes and sizes. Tactile sensing uses will inevitably increase because of the ever-growing numbers of robots interacting with humans.


This study provides a detailed account of the growing use of tactile sensing in robotics in three key areas of application.



Bogue, R. (2019), "Tactile sensing for surgical and collaborative robots and robotic grippers", Industrial Robot, Vol. 46 No. 1, pp. 1-6.



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