New Shadow Robotics Tactile Sensor

Posted 10 May 2007 at 16:09 UTC by steve Share This

The Shadow Robot Company, Ltd. has produced a new type of tactile sensor for The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The sensitivity of the new sensors, which are based on Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) as the sensing medium, are said to approach that of the human fingertip. The sensor will be used by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab as part of their DARPA-funded advanced prosthetics project that we reported on last month. Shadow has been added to the already impressive list of subcontractors working with APL. The sensors are designed to be used on the tips of thumbs or forefingers and have applications to robotics as well as prostethics. Read on the full text of the press release.

The Shadow Robot Company Ltd. 251 Liverpool Road, London, N1 1LX, UK Phone: +44 (0)207 700 2487 E-mail:

Press Release

2007 May 8th – Tactile Sensors as compact as a human fingertip

Based on a request by The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, The Shadow Robot Company, London, UK, produced unique Tactile Sensors, whose sensitivity gets close to that of a human fingertip.

The Shadow Robot Company is a high-tech engineering company developing robots and associated technologies. Shadow had developed innovative sensors using Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) as its sensing medium, which allows a large sensitivity and range to be achieved. QTC was manufactured by Peratech Ltd, Durham, UK, to Shadow's own specification.

A DARPA - funded prosthetics project, headed by The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, was looking for a tactile sensor with the necessary qualities to use as the core of their system. The Shadow sensor was the only one offering the right basic set of qualities, and Shadow were happy to enhance the sensor for their specific requirements.

Hugo Elias, Robotics engineer at The Shadow Robot Company says: “This new generation of sensors have again surpassed our hopes of increasing the sensitivity range and the reliability. The production process has been further streamlined increasing productivity.”

The sensor is available in two shapes, suitable for a thumb or finger, as well as in two sizes, with 34 or 22 individual tactile elements.

In terms of application, The Shadow Tactile Sensor gives robots a fine-grained sense of touch, which makes it possible for robot to handle objects more reliably and more safely.

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