Scalable fabric tactile sensor arrays for soft bodies


fabric manufacturing, sensor array, soft bodies


Soft robots have the potential to transform the way robots interact with their environment. This is due to their low inertia and inherent ability to more safely interact with the world without damaging themselves or the people around them. However, existing sensing for soft robots has at least partially limited their ability to control interactions with their environment. Tactile sensors could enable soft robots to sense interaction, but most tactile sensors are made from rigid substrates and are not well suited to applications for soft robots which can deform. In addition, the benefit of being able to cheaply manufacture soft robots may be lost if the tactile sensors that cover them are expensive and their resolution does not scale well for manufacturability. This paper discusses the development of a method to make affordable, high-resolution, tactile sensor arrays (manufactured in rows and columns) that can be used for sensorizing soft robots and other soft bodies. However, the construction results in a sensor array that exhibits significant amounts of cross-talk when two taxels in the same row are compressed. Using the same fabric-based tactile sensor array construction design, two different methods for cross-talk compensation are presented. The first uses a mathematical model to calculate a change in resistance of each taxel directly. The second method introduces additional simple circuit components that enable us to isolate each taxel electrically and relate voltage to force directly. Fabric sensor arrays are demonstrated for two different soft-bodied applications: an inflatable single link robot and a human wrist.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Micromechanics and MIcroengineering




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering