Although pain is perceived as a bad experience, the sensation comes with benefits which allow us to learn from and react to our actions. Without pain, humans wouldn’t know to stay away from hazards, or know when to rest when their bodies are pushed to the limit. Unlike humans, robots have few methods of knowing when they are in danger of being injured, causing them to keep working until they cause permanent damage. Researchers, Johannes Kuehn and Professor Sami Haddadin, have recently created a nervous system for robots, enabling them to feel pain and react to it just like humans.
The main purpose of this robotic nervous system is to allow robots to conduct automatic maintenance, noticing when harm is being done to them during operation and taking measures avoid it. This new feature will decrease malfunctioning robots on factory floors, preventing faulty products and worker injuries.
This pain-reflex controller is built on a BioTac Fingertip sensor, a device that allows robots to feel textures and tell them apart just from touch. Designed based on human skin, this nerve material allows the robot to feel different levels of pain so it can sense the amount of danger it is in and react accordingly. When a fingertip comes into contact with an object, the sensors are able to feel the amount of force/pain instantly and transmit the data through the robots system to sort it into one of three pain categories; light, moderate, or severe. Each category reacts differently depending on the danger faced.
When faced with minor pain, the robotic arm realizes there is a slight danger and will slowly retract a small distance away from the source of the danger. Further pain will bump the robot into the moderate category, where the robot arm will retract quickly and further away from the danger. Lastly, severe pain will put the robot into passive mode where the machine will disable itself and become motionless to prevent any further damage. These pain categories not only work with physical contact to the robot, but also extreme nearby heat that could cause damage over time.
Robotic advancements, like BioTac Sensors, enable Eclipse to provide clients with the most sustainable, quality solutions. Whether you require a simple robotic palletizing system to large cell assembly systems, Eclipse will identify opportunities that enhance the overall production of your automation projects.