This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Artificial fingertip that ‘feels’ wins robotics competition

18 January 2017

An open-source 3D printed fingertip that can ‘feel’ in a similar way to the human sense of touch has won an international Soft Robotics competition.

TacTip, a 3D printed tactile sensor (Credit: University of Bristol)

Pushing the boundaries of soft robotics, the open-source tactile fingertip, known as TacTip, is a 3D printed tactile sensor that has been developed by the Tactile Robotics Team from Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL).

The fingertip meets the need for a cheap, robust, versatile tactile sensor to give robots an artificial sense of touch. The sensor has a unique design in which a webcam is mounted inside a 3D printed soft fingertip to track internal pins that act like touch receptors inside our own fingertips, making it cheap to build and highly customisable.

Dr Nathan Lepora, Senior Lecturer in Robotics at the University of Bristol and BRL and leader of the Tactile Robotics Team, said: “An artificial sense of touch is the key for enabling future robots to have human-like dexterity. Applications of artificial touch span from the future robotisation of manufacturing, food production and healthcare, to prosthetic hands that restore a sense of touch.”

Benjamin Ward-Cherrier, PhD student at BRL, added: “TacTip is a cheap artificial fingertip that anyone can build and customise with a 3D printer, opening up the field of tactile robotics to many more researchers.”

Over 80 teams entered the 2016 Soft Robotics competition hosted by Soft Robotics Toolkit. The competition, which is in its second year, aims to develop and showcase novel robots and fundamental research related to soft robotics.

The competition was divided into three categories. The first category was for the most significant contribution to fundamental research in soft robotics. The second was a design competition for college level students and enthusiasts to develop novel robots using tools found on Soft Robotics Toolkit’s website and the final category was a design competition for high school students also designing novel, soft robots. 

Video courtesy of Tactile Robotics Group BRL.


Print this page | E-mail this page