Development, Testing and Characterization of Electronic Skins for Robots
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The main purpose of this thesis is to test and characterize newly developed pressure sensors integrated into robot skin and understand their behavior for different testing parameters such as sensor and skin materials and geometry. Flexible electronic skin is meant to behave similar to human skin acting as a tactile interface with the robot environment. Before placing electronic skin onto robots, it is important to test and characterize such structures. Since the behavior of our pressure sensors embedded in robot skin was still unknown, an experimental setup has been developed in order to test and characterize the sensors and collect the real time data. The experimental setup described in this thesis includes various hardware systems such as a National Instrument's cRIO real time controller, a load cell and a plunger attached to a linear actuator to gathers the real time pressure measurements. The test process was automated using custom software written in LabVIEW which not only gathers the data in real time but also increases the speed of operation. Different force control algorithms were implemented, which safely achieve the robot-environment interaction. Along with the sensors, different skin types were tested and characterized based on the experimental data gathered from the system. After data analysis, a particular combination of skins and sensors was chosen as most promising for further studies.