Few weeks ago, we reported on Harvard’s Takktile pressure sensor. This week we highlight a tactile sensor that does contain the three sensory modalities found in the human fingertip: force, vibration, and temperature. That is the BioTac by Syntouch LLC, a spin-off USC. This revolutionary sensor is shaped like a human finger. It has even fingerprints that enhances its sensitivity, so it accurately distinguishes textures. Experiments shows that it is rarely confused by pairs of similar textures that humans could not distinguish at all. For this experiments, the control software decides after a first random move, on how to perform the following moves in order to maximize acquired information.
On the business side of robotics, we have a couple of important stories in the area of industrial robotics. Heartland Robotics, yet another company founded by Rodney Brooks, has raised $30 million. It also has changed its name to Rethink Robotics. The other news is from Apple. It seems that next generation of iPhones and iPads will be manufactured by robots. Apple is planning a budget of billions of dollars to automate the current process that requires no less than 325 pairs of hands to perform the 141 production steps.
You’ll find links to these stories and much more in our news of the week below. We also provide you with a selection of our favorite videos of the week, including the Lego-based Turing machine. Enjoy!