Event-driven e-skin eases robots’ compute requirements: Page 2 of 2

October 16, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Aiming to give robots better proprioception and a better sense of their close surroundings, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a large-scale synthetic skin built up of 1260 tiled hexagonal cells, each containing a microprocessor and capable of sensing contact, acceleration, proximity and temperature.

In the clock-driven mode, they write, the robot skin system constantly produces 315 000 packets/s, while in event-driven mode the system at most produces 40 000 packets/s (13%). The CPU load reduces drastically, from constantly 270% to at most 100% (37%). Also, in a clock-driven mode, the authors noted that the PC dropped on average 80 000 packets/s (25% of all packets), while in the event-driven mode, package loss was practically negligible. This efficient large-scale robot skin enables the complete onboard integration into a humanoid robot without the need for additional external power or processing capabilities.

In the event-based robotic skin, only the touched
skin cells send out their data.

With its special skin, the H-1 could give a person a hug safely, without exerting excessive force, taking into account the various pressure points from its body parts in contact with a human. “This might not be as important in industrial applications, but in areas such as nursing care, robots must be designed for very close contact with people,” explains Gordon Cheng, Professor of cognitive systems at TUM who took part in the research and the original inventor of the hexagonally-tiled robot skin.

What’s more, because the skin consists of individual cells, it remains functional even if some cells stop working. “Our system is designed to work trouble-free and quickly with all kinds of robots,” added Gordon Cheng. The researchers are now working on shrinking the skin cells further and making them cost effective to manufacture in volume.

Technical University of Munich – www.tum.de


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