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Robotic Sense of Touch

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the practical-applications-in-porn-industry-left-unspoken dept.

56

Aryabhata writes "As per a BBC article, US scientists have created a device that could one day pave the way for robotic hands mimicking human touch. The research team from University of Nebraska in Lincoln hopes to apply this to aid surgery by allowing surgeons to feel the tissue they are operating on. This could help surgeons in distinguishing cancerous or abnormal tissue etc. To demonstrate the device the scientists tried the instrument on a one cent coin and the sensor revealed the wrinkles in President Lincoln's clothing and the letters TY in liberty."

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Excellent.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513732)

one step closer to our desired sex slavebots!

Re:Excellent.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513760)

And I, for one, welcome our new buxom silacoid overlords!

Re:Excellent.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513771)

A /.'ers wet dream. ;)

Just to get this out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513825)

I for one welcome our new sex driven overlords

Re:Just to get this out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513830)

Looks like the guy two posts above you got to that meme first.

I'm sure there's a joke somewhere here about being "quick on the draw", but I'll leave it be....

Re:Just to get this out of the way (1)

Lord Prox (521892) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514397)

Ya know, this has got my attention. how about the following...
  • TelePerv.com - remote squeezeing of various body parts.
  • Since it can be digitized it can be stored and copied. Squeeze Vida Guerra's bum for only $4.95! Download now! Nah, I'll use SqueezeTorrent.com or eMule.
  • How could you sue a pervert Doctor that copped a feel while giving an ObGyn exam from a remote location. Like Hong Kong.
  • Or prevent him from coping that digitized sample and selling to med schools and online pr0n shops
  • Fu-Fme [fu-fme.com] could become real
  • If errr WHEN an incident happens who has jurisdiction. At the location of the feeler or the feelie





Got Debt? [debtishell.com]

Official joke thread (4, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513848)


Since this appears to be the official joke thread for the article, I'll throw in my two cents:


the sensor revealed the wrinkles in President Lincoln's clothing and the letters TY in liberty.

I'm glad they've got a device that can still detect some of our liberty. I was starting to get worried.

--MarkusQ

Continue to worry! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514383)

The device functions perfectly and has detected all of our remaining liberty.

Re:Official joke thread (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15515213)

huh, I always thought Lincoln's slaves ironed his clothes...

Re:Excellent.... (1)

Nadsat (652200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513952)

Nah, I'm quite content with having a robot that can detect wrinkles in Lincoln's clothing. And one that can identify the letters T and Y. This is perfect!

no means no (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513791)

why doesn't he remove the chip that makes me feel PAIN?

Re:no means no (4, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513870)

why doesn't he remove the chip that makes me feel PAIN?

Because "pain" protects you from yourself damaging your body [wikipedia.org]

If you can't feel there's something wrong and abnormal with your body (broken leg, biting on tongue, finger stuck in a blender, ...) you wont act to protect it. Not damaging yourself wouldn't be a "reflex" anymore, but a contious process with not always the highest priority. Like an Interrupt request versus an API-call.

Re:no means no (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513920)

heh, I was just quoting from Drawn Together :-p but does draw all sorts of moral issues over the creation of AI's that "self preserve" through similar mechanisms as we do - what feelings shouldn't we try to recreate?

Re:no means no (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513955)

Does draw all sorts of moral issues over the creation of AI's that "self preserve" through similar mechanisms as we do

I agree. Creating a robotic clone of a human isn't really what should be attempted as humans' nature is quite competitive and dominating.

AI with a sense of "self" and with an ego could give quite disturbing scenario's.

Re:no means no (1)

DaltonRS (825261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514634)

Human nature is all well and fine, but the general consensus is that sex supercedes any other considerations.

Re:no means no (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515048)

Human nature is all well and fine, but the general consensus is that sex supercedes any other considerations.

Actually it's number three according to Maslow [wikipedia.org] .

Re:no means no (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516935)

Occording to the wiki page you linked to, he places Love/Belonging into #3, but sex itself into #1.

Transferring Touch? (1)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513794)

The team says the tactile sensor could, in the future, aid minimally invasive surgical techniques by giving surgeons a "touch-sensation".
This doesn't sound to me like surgeons looking at a display of light emissions. Is there some kind of method in place that would transfer the sense of touch from the machine to the surgeon(s)?

Re:Transferring Touch? (3, Informative)

Zelet (515452) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514050)

I have a friend working on this tech and they are getting close. Its a really hard thing to do because for large scale force feed back the mechanics are too big and complex to be easily mass produced. Then with the small scale (textures, etc) its hard interface the controls with the human hand and transmit such small changes in surface quickly enough to be useful.

Re:Transferring Touch? (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516630)

Google "400-pin tactile array"

This array was in work in the lab I in which I did my PhD, and has more recently become viable. It can mimic, to the best extent possible, spatial inputs to the skin, in a fairly incredible virtual reality kind of way, and is a great research tool. But it is a HUGE device made to provide good control over a single fingertip of skin.

Not for robots, really (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513795)

This is more of a remote control application of sensors. It lets you feel through the robotic hands.

In other words, it won't do anything for a sexbot, but the implications for the phone sex industry are profound!

Re:Not for robots, really (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514186)

In other words, it won't do anything for a sexbot, but the implications for the phone sex industry are profound!

I thought it couldn't get any worse than when my dreamworld came crashing down when I got busted jerking off as a teenager, now someone has to go & ruin phone sex for me too...

Re:Not for robots, really (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514384)

Nah, this has uses in allowing software to detect fine changes in pressure, allowing certain systems to be more sensitive and flexible in their operation. For example, attached to an appropiate image recognition package, the robot will be able to maintain the right force and pressure and so on. I.e. it lets sexbots distinguish ahhhhs from arrrrghs.

Haha (1)

Rendo (918276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513801)

Like some of us /.ers, our internet ... "desires" are widely known and we do get tired hands. A third robotic hand used as a backup will allow us to not only pleasure ourselves but maintain a free hand for commenting on awesome news like this.

I'd be more interested in the autonomous robotics (2, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513806)

I get why this would be useful for telesurgery. But does anyone else thing this would be damn useful for robots more generally?

AI is the single largest problem with making robots that act autonomously, but there are other issues as well, and sensory data is one of them. Humans, and other animals, depend on a variety of senses to interact with our environment - ranging from sonar to sight to smell (depending on species). An individual is severly limited with one of their senses lost/reduced.

We could build a robot with sight easily - camera technology is getting better and better. Ditto sound recording, and even interpretation (voice recognition for example has come a long way). Gyroscopes can be used to give a sense of balance. It wouldn't be that difficult to add sonar or radar to that list, and smell we can probably skip for most applications. But touch is too useful not to have. For any device that moves independantly, being able to feel where it's putting its various body parts is potentially vital.

How important is our sense of touch? Hands are useless without feedback as to where we're putting them. Imagine the advantages for a robot that can feel different surfaces (and determine what they're made of, how sturdy they are, etc). I suspect a fair number of problems with pathfinding could be solved by giving the robot instructions as to what surfaces will and won't support it's weight. Telling a vehicle sized robot to stick to the asphalt would be helpful, especially when you consider the alternatives. It'd be nice to be able to tell a bot meant for cleaning not to throw away money, or to differentiate between recycleable materials and regular garbage, or to avoid scrubbing the carpet with tile cleaner...

Of course I'm probably getting ahead of the technology here - this sort of application won't exist for a long time yet. But hey, a geek can dream.

What will touch tell you (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514018)

about picking up an egg, before it's too late?

this isn't all that useful for 'sturdy' checking.. only experience can teach you that.

a better method for surface detection under a gripping apendage would be a small rubber disk (fingertip) on the other side of which is a prism-- with a small amount of oil inbetween.. bounce a light off the disk and a camera on the other side.. perfect surface detection.

Re:What will touch tell you (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514090)

Touch could tell you that the egg is ovoid, has a certain texture, and a specific weight range. Comparing that to stored information about various objects could tell you that the object you're holding is an egg, rather than, say, a golf ball. This is essentially what human memory already accomplishes.

All you need to do is either A) Give the robot learning capability and let it make mistakes (which is hard, but leads to more versatile behaviour), or B) Code for every object it is likely to come in contact to (the easier brute force method). The latter approach works just fine if the bot is only going to come into contact with a limited number of forseeable objects. Put simply, a robot designed for something like mechanical work only needs to know in-depth information about a few types of material - it doesn't need to know what an egg is if it isn't going to handle them.

Being able to tell things like surface texture and shape is what the technology in TFA does - and in our "egg" scenario, that is useful information. You'd need other sensors for things like weight, but being able to determine that object X has Y properties, and then comparing Y to a database of shape/size/surface data, does give the robot an advantage when dealing with the environment it's operating in.

Re:What will touch tell you (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515280)

We use touch to determine when we are putting enough pressure on an egg to pick it up. Why wouldn't it work for a robot?

Re:What will touch tell you (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516555)

We typically use mechanoreceptor feedback from our fingertips to determine when an object in our hands begins to slip. We increase grip force until the slip stops with a reasonable margin of safety.

With such feedback picking up an egg safely is easy. Without it picking up the egg is nearly impossible. Experiments have been done in which the skin but not the proprioceptors are anesthetized. Even simple manual tasks become very difficult.

We can live without vision or hearing, but we cannot live without touch.

Way insightful. Roboticists have wanted this. (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515470)

How do you push something without punching it, how do you grip something firmly without breaking it, how do you line up a screw with a screw hole?

This has been one of the aching needs of robotics for as long as I can remember. Crude force modulation sort of works for the first two, but is hopeless for the last.

ok funs over (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15513838)

who screwed up the layout on slashdot?

Forgetting something? (4, Interesting)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513853)

What about prosthetics that could actually feel? If I lost an arm or a leg or something, I'd pay top dollar not to lose my sense of touch.

Re:Forgetting something? (2, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513880)

You'd also need the techology to tie the prosthetic limb into your nervous system. That might actually be the harder part.

OTOH, if you could tie into your peripheral nervous system, you'd have a prosthetic that not only had a sense of touch, but that could be controlled like a limb as well. The parts of your brain are already there to move it, so as long as you were born with the limb in question, you could probably train a prosthetic easily enough.

Re:Forgetting something? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514406)

Some current, advanced prosthetics convey a limited sense of hot and cold to the wearer by electrically stimulating different patches of skin. The wearers are generally able to adapt to the input in a useful way. Increasingly direct interfaces to the nervous system seem to be only a crazy doctor or two away.

I'm not sure you would even need to be born with the limb, those experiments with the monkeys where they controlled electronic arms with thought worked out ok. I guess they did establish control over the arms by initially tying the movement of the mechanical arm to the movement of the monkeys actual arm, so who knows. Perhaps the lower communication barrier with a human would make it possible to establish control simply through visual feedback. You can't exactly explain to Bobo that he should try to "think" the arm to do things.

Re:Forgetting something? (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516578)

[quote]I'm not sure you would even need to be born with the limb, those experiments with the monkeys where they controlled electronic arms with thought worked out ok. I guess they did establish control over the arms by initially tying the movement of the mechanical arm to the movement of the monkeys actual arm, so who knows. Perhaps the lower communication barrier with a human would make it possible to establish control simply through visual feedback. You can't exactly explain to Bobo that he should try to "think" the arm to do things.[/quote]

We are a long way away from prosthetics that can perform useful tasks. However, they may be able to allow trapped patients to communicate effectively, and that would be huge.

Those monkey experiments have used principally visual feedback, not tactile feedback. The monkey-robot-arm experiments were done open loop, the robot arm merely mimicked the monkey arm, and was not used under feedback control. Sure it is a first step, but the feedback part of the equation has stumped prosthetic engineers for over a decade already.

Re:Forgetting something? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15520608)

I was aiming for the fact that you could more easily get a human to imagine the arm moving than you can a monkey. For the monkey, you have to tie the movement to the monkey's real arm to get things working; for a properly motivated human, who knows...

Re:Forgetting something? (2, Interesting)

Meltir (891449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513914)

As i understand it - thats a bigger challenge.
TFA speaks only about touch->image conversion, and i doubt they have anything that can actually mimic any given texture under the surgeons hand.
The prosthetics we have now (if you have the cash) are able to react to nerves to some extent - forcing your arm to move, or grab an object.
But i think that making a interface that actually lets you feel what the computer is telling you is a different story.
And im talking tens of years of development.
We are getting into the neuromancer plot here - what if a machine like that got compromised and told you your arm was on fire ?
And what if it was hooked up directly into your spine (you had some near fatal injury and was paralized from the waste down) and it managed to convince you that you were .... erm - having a really bad time ?

Re:Forgetting something? (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514162)

Seriously, now we can make robo-arms like Luke Skywalker had.

One cent coin? (3, Insightful)

IlliniECE (970260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513856)

One cent coin? Isn't it easier to just say "a penny"?

Re:One cent coin? (1)

bluelip (123578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513934)

One cent coin? Isn't it easier to just say "a penny"?

They're equal in my mind.
They contain the same number of syllables.
I'm sure a linguist could provide a more accurate comparison, but that's close enough for me.

Re:One cent coin? (3, Informative)

kestryn (222463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514056)



The article quoted was a BBC article, and a penny in the UK has no 'liberty' upon it.

Re:One cent coin? (1)

IlliniECE (970260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514191)

It just doesn't roll off the tongue. Then again, we are talking about Brits.

A "penny" in Britain doesn't show Lincoln (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515512)

"One cent coin" on the other hand is not ambiguous because England does not have the cent as a unit of currency. I'd also point out that it is not obvious to all readers that just because you call a one pence coin a penny that a one cent coin is also called a penny. A one yen coin isn't called a penny, a ten pence coin isn't called a dime, etc etc.

Cool... (2, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513874)

sure, surgery and cancer and stuff...but what about the blackjack and hookers?

No iron handy in the 1800's huh? (4, Funny)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513907)

"the wrinkles in President Lincoln's clothing"

It's too bad the mint couldn't have ironed his clothes before casting him in metal...

Robotic Massage (1)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513940)

Could I get my XBox to give me a happy ending? Force feedback with a light touch...

Limited touch.. (1)

Pleb'a.nz (712848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514065)

"US scientists have created a sensor that can "feel" the texture of objects to the same degree of sensitivity as a human fingertip."

Why do they limit it to the sensitivity of a human fingertip ?

Re:Limited touch.. (0)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514091)

it's actually a great leap forward to have that much sensitivity.

Re:not so Limited touch.. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514373)

Actually humans need to move their skin to scan a surface to be able to "read" it, this skin can read the surface without scanning/rubbing over it. So in a sense it already has surpassed an index finger.

Re:not so Limited touch.. (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516610)

Actually humans need to move their skin to scan a surface to be able to "read" it, this skin can read the surface without scanning/rubbing over it. So in a sense it already has surpassed an index finger.

Actually humans can scan a surface statically, there is just more information available if a scan is used.

Your index finger can detect spatial form on a surface with a 2 mm range. You can detect surface asperities as small as a 4-5 microns in scanned touch, and detect vibrations of 1-2 microns at 250 Hz.

This fake skin has great spatial acuity, but nearly no dynamic range compared to our static sense of touch. In a sense (pun intended), it is not operating in the right range. Our static sense of touch has spatial acuity of a little less than a mm, and threshold close to 25 microns (static threshold), and 2 mm dynamic range. These nanotech films are nowhere near the right range (more sensitive and better spatial acuity), and will probably be useless as substitutes or encoders for natural touch. There are plenty of other applications for them, though...

Question... (1)

vinlud (230623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514146)

Is this device included in Lego Mindstorms?
I want to send a package to a good old friend of mine.

Regards,

Hannibal

Applications (2, Interesting)

D H NG (779318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514251)

This might have some use to amputees. I heard a while ago that they were developing prosthetics with a sense of touch, but all they could do was distinguish between hot and cold.

Not that new... (1)

Obi-w00t (943426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15514385)

Having touch linked with robotics isn't that new. A while ago I heard about a scientist here in the UK who had a microchip implanted in his arm. This chip was able to communicate with a robotic arm. He was able to move the robotic arm just be moving his own. The robotic arm also had touch sensors. When they switched the communications the other way and got somebody to touch the robotic hand the scientist reported strange sensations in the fingers - as if it were actually happening to his real arm. This technology I believe was meant to be research into advanced prosthetics, but I shouldn't imagine this technology would be too far off what is required, if they had an array of sensors on a probing device and a surgeon with this microchip that just communicated with the tip of his finger. If the sensors were sensitive enough he could "feel" what the probe was touching.

gn44 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15514932)

Important medical advancement (1)

wnarifin (800540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515203)

This is such an important development in medical field. The usage of augmented reality for surgery and the reseach in virtual reality for application in surgery have been going on for past few years, and the advancement in tactile part of the surgery (so far it's more of visual development, and the tactile technology of the system is not matured). The advancement would make the remote and collaborative approach to surgery even more feasible and better.

good for androids (1)

aldendsouza (855420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15515322)

This is what Data (from Star Trek) never had.
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