MIT demonstrates GelSight which gives robots touch sensitivity

Baxter

Having seen the rather clumsy attempts of most robots today to pick up objects, the new GelSight, currently under development by Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a giant leap forward. The future home robot will need to be picking up objects every day. Sensitivity is so important, just compare a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste for example.

The video below shows how a Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics was equipped with a two-pincer gripper, one of whose pincers had a GelSight sensor on its tip. Using conventional computer-vision algorithms, the robot identified a dangling USB plug and attempted to grasp it. It then determined the position of the USB plug relative to its gripper from an embossed USB symbol. Although there was a 3-millimeter variation in where the robot grasped the plug, it was able to measure its position accurately enough to insert it into a USB port that tolerated only about a millimeter’s error.

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