Think science isn't very "touchy feely?" Think again.
Researchers, engineers and students in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Biomechatronics Lab are building artificial limbs to be more tactile or sensitive to touch.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team led by mechanical engineer, Veronica J. Santos, Ph.D. is creating a touch language translatable by computers and humans. The researchers test robotic touch with mechanical pressure sensors that interact with objects of various shapes, sizes and textures. With cutting edge instrumentation, Santos' team is able to translate touch interaction into computer data.
Santos' results will be used to for a formula or algorithm that allows the computer to identify patterns among the items in its library of tested experiences and things it has never felt before. This work will help researchers further develop artificial haptic (sense of touch) skills and provide robots and human prostheses with the "human touch."