Research and Development in Robotic Systems

Tactile Sensor Systems as User Interfaces

Intuitive Operation

As IT systems become more and more important in our society, innovative approaches for human-machine interaction increasingly gain in importance. In addition to existing interaction technologies such as the mouse, the keyboard or touch screens, touchable interfaces (so-called "tangible user interfaces") can contribute towards making the operation of complex systems more intuitive.

As part of the AVILUS+ project several tangible user interfaces and touch-based control concepts for robots and AR/VR applications were developed using the tactile sensor technology of the Fraunhofer IFF.

Pressure-sensitive surfaces for touch operation of robots

Tactile sensor systems applied as a pressure-sensitive skin to the surface of robots or other moving machine parts can be used for safe collision detection as well as for user interfaces. Apart from the information that contact has occurred, the tactile sensor system delivers additional information about the location of the contact and amount of force applied. The forces acting on the tactile sensor system can be interpreted directly as control pulses and can be used to control movement intuitively without additional technical knowledge and operator panels. This supports novel methods of programming and operation in industrial applications, as well as more intuitive interfaces for human-robot interaction in non-industrial settings.

Touch operation of a robot.

Tangible User Interfaces

User interfaces on the basis of the Fraunhofer IFF's tactile sensor technology can be produced in scratch-, impact-, cut- and/or chemical-resistant designs and are therefore more rugged than conventional touch screens. The tactile sensor can further be molded to fit complexly-shaped objects and can be used even when wearing gloves, since it uses resistive touch technology.

The user interfaces developed in the AVILUS+ project enable the control of a SCARA robot in all its degrees of freedom. In this context, the force resolution of the tactile sensors was used to influence the robot's motion speed.

Project data AVILUSplus (overall project)

Support program: IKT 2020/Research for Innovation
Program focus: Virtual and Augmented Reality
Project Ref. No.: 01IM08002
Support volume: 10.1 million euros