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Flexible Polymer Sensor for Space Suits, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Perception Robotics has developed an innovative new type of compliant tactile sensing solution, a polymeric skin (PolySkinTM) that can be molded into any form factor, supports a variety of mechanical properties, and is inherently inexpensive and durable. This novel tactile sensor surmounts the failures of prior tactile solutions with sophisticated multi-modal sensing capabilities, modeled after human hand sensing specifications, coupled with robust design for industrial and space applications. PolySkin is a perfect choice for measuring space suit interactions with the human body because it was designed for a similar problem: detect contact to allow robots to safely operate in an unstructured environment. PolySkin measures mechanical pressure accurately, has a good resistant to aberrant readings when under moderate bending, shear or torsion, is sufficiently pliant to follow anatomical curves on the human skin without discomfort or lack of mobility, it can be fabricated in thin profiles (~mm) and packaged sufficiently small, free of rigid or sharp points, and it consumes low power. During this project, we will fabricate a flat prototype of our novel tactile sensor and characterize and optimize the elastomer formulation to achieve desired properties: accuracy within 10%, dynamic range: 0.1 to 10N, and high repeatability (<5% error). We will build conditioning electronics to provide serial output signal through a USB port. After passing initial test, calibration, and validation, the conditioning electronics will be used to test in-sleeve embedded sensor. In a final proof-of-concept milestone, we will fabricate a working prototype wearable sleeve embedded with PolySkin to validate the performance. The deliverables include a 4x4 inch pad sensor at the end of 3rd month, and a wearable sleeve with embedded PolySkin sensor combined with conditioning electronics kit at the end of the project. More »

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