A bioinspired stretchable membrane-based compliance sensor

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 May 26;117(21):11314-11320. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909532117. Epub 2020 May 8.


Compliance sensation is a unique feature of the human skin that electronic devices could not mimic via compact and thin form-factor devices. Due to the complex nature of the sensing mechanism, up to now, only high-precision or bulky handheld devices have been used to measure compliance of materials. This also prevents the development of electronic skin that is fully capable of mimicking human skin. Here, we developed a thin sensor that consists of a strain sensor coupled to a pressure sensor and is capable of identifying compliance of touched materials. The sensor can be easily integrated into robotic systems due to its small form factor. Results showed that the sensor is capable of classifying compliance of materials with high sensitivity allowing materials with various compliance to be identified. We integrated the sensor to a robotic finger to demonstrate the capability of the sensor for robotics. Further, the arrayed sensor configuration allows a compliance mapping which can enable humanlike sensations to robotic systems when grasping objects composed of multiple materials of varying compliance. These highly tunable sensors enable robotic systems to handle more advanced and complicated tasks such as classifying touched materials.

Keywords: compliance; electronic skin; multimodal sensing; pressure sensor; strain sensor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.