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Artificial Skin for Robotic Arm that provides Anti-Collision and Intuitive Teaching Solutions

Technology Overview

The application of robots in the same workspace with humans resulted in direct mechanical interaction. Robots may accidentally injure the human body when interacting. Therefore, robots without anti-collision functions are not allowed to be used as collaborative robots.

Robotics industry leaders made collaborative robots with torque sensors on-axis for anti-collision function. Presently, most technologies that use robot collision detection is rigid, expensive, and bulky. These torque sensors are integrated into the robotic arm at the end effector. In contrast, the rest of the robotic arm is not built with torque sensors because the torque sensors are usually bulky and challenging to integrate onto the robotic arm portion. Furthermore, torque sensors are not sensitive to small pressure forces.

This technology offer is a microfluidic-based flexible tactile sensor integrated into an artificial skin made of durable fabric. It can easily be conformed to cover different robot parts for anti-collision detection. Any collision impact will immediately trigger a safe stop signal to the controller and initiate the robot’s breaking sequence. The low-cost microfluidic-based flexible tactile sensor can replace rigid, expensive, and bulky sensors in the robotics market. The tactile sensors can sense a very low force of 0.1N as compared to 0.5N sensed by current industry torque sensors.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

The artificial skin is embedded with microfluidic-based tactile sensors and can detect the contact force and enable the robot to handle both unintentional collisions (in safe human-robot collaboration tasks) and intentional touches (used as a human-machine interface). The utmost success factor is that the artificial skin can offer a solution platform that can be easily upgraded to perform collision detection with minor modifications on any robotic hardware.

Potential Applications

  • Anti-collision application for the robotic arm
  • Robotic hands for grasping objects
  • Human-humanoid interaction
  • Control robot pushing actions (intuitive teaching) when in contact with the sensors; the robot teaching positions can be learned by pressing the artificial skin sensors.
  • The artificial skin sensors can replace the robot teaching pendant to fulfill the robot teaching functions.
  • It can be deployed to an estimated 240,000 robots in Singapore

Customer Benefits

The developed artificial skin embedded with tactile sensors is durable and lightweight, low-cost, and takes lesser time to set up. It is more sensitive, and is flexible and conformable compared to existing torque sensors which are rigid. This technology offer could replace existing expensive force-torque sensors in the robotics market.

Contact Person

June Loh


Singapore Health Technologies Consortium (HealthTEC)

Technology Category

  • Electronics
  • Sensors & Instrumentation

Technology Readiness Level


microfluidic-based flexible tactile sensor, robot collision detection and robot teaching