Research ArticleSOFT ROBOTS

Soft optoelectronic sensory foams with proprioception

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Science Robotics  28 Nov 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 24, eaau2489
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aau2489


In a step toward soft robot proprioception, and therefore better control, this paper presents an internally illuminated elastomer foam that has been trained to detect its own deformation through machine learning techniques. Optical fibers transmitted light into the foam and simultaneously received diffuse waves from internal reflection. The diffuse reflected light was interpreted by machine learning techniques to predict whether the foam was twisted clockwise, twisted counterclockwise, bent up, or bent down. Machine learning techniques were also used to predict the magnitude of the deformation type. On new data points, the model predicted the type of deformation with 100% accuracy and the magnitude of the deformation with a mean absolute error of 0.06°. This capability may impart soft robots with more complete proprioception, enabling them to be reliably controlled and responsive to external stimuli.

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