Tactile sensing workshop @ Humanoids '09

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Title: Tactile sensing in Humanoids – Tactile Sensors and beyond.

Proposers: Ravinder Dahiya^1, Giorgio Metta^{1,3}, Maurizio Valle^2, Giorgio Cannata^3 1- Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa, Italy 2- DIBE, University of Genoa, Italy 3- DIST, University of Genoa, Italy

Background: To perceive a real world object and to act accordingly one needs multiple sensory information from several sense modalities - competing with each other. Absence of any sense modality widens the gap between what is sensed and what is perceived. Among various sense modalities, the ‘Sense of touch’ is of particular importance as unlike other sense modalities it involves physical contact and thus allows assessing of objects properties like size, shape texture; detecting slip; rolling an object between fingers without dropping it; developing awareness of the body and in differentiating “me” from “not me”. Impaired tactile sensibility makes manipulation difficult as brain lacks the information, about mechanical contact, needed to plan and control manipulation – which is centered on the mechanical events that mark transitions between consecutive action phases and the signals from tactile afferents play decisive role during such transitions. As in humans, the touch sensing in humanoids should help understand the interaction behaviors of a real world objects - which depend on their weight and stiffness; on how their surface feels when touched; how they deform on contact and how they move when pushed. Robotic devices make way into human life leads to the emergence of issues like safe interaction between the robots and humans - more so for humanoid robots. Having said this, one ponders why most humanoid projects fail to pay any major attention to tactile sensing and whole body skin vis-a-vis other sensory modalities. Even if robotic community has been talking about the need for touch and visual information for a long time, the usage of visual signals far outweighs their tactile counterpart - thereby strongly limiting the real world interaction and restricting the cognitive capabilities of humanoids. Not that tactile sensing has been neglected altogether. Many touch sensors based on innovative designs and exploiting all possible modes of transduction have been reported. However, something like CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) optical array for the tactile sensing is yet to come. The role of CMOS optical arrays in advancing the usage of visual data is widely known and something ‘similar and beyond’ is needed to make the tactile sensing an effective part of robotic system. Unlike other sense modalities, developing sense of touch for robotic applications has to confront issues like non-uniform distribution of sensor on the body, 3D coverage of the robotics body, number of wires, variable spatio-temporal requirements at different body sites, communication issues that may come up with large amount of data etc. Thus, design of a meaningful robotic tactile sensing system should be guided by a broad but integrated knowledge of how tactile information is encoded and transmitted at various stages of interaction via touch sensing. The tactile sensors or sensing arrays, therefore, must be developed with a system view. This should make it easy to integrate them on a robotic platform and also result in the effective utilization of tactile information collected by them.

Aim and Scope of the Workshop: The aim of this workshop, tactile sensing in humanoid – tactile sensors and beyond, is to provide a forum for discussing the issues associated with the development of not only the tactile sensors but also their integration on robots and hence the “effective utilization” of tactile information. The workshop would cover tactile sensing for body sites like fingertips (that require large number of sensors in small space) and other sites like arm, belly etc. (where large area skin type arrangement is needed).The workshop aims to bring together researchers from different areas (such as robotics, sensors, large area electronics, and human sense of touch etc.) to discuss: a) The issues that have been hindering the effective usage of tactile sensing in robotics and the solutions to clear the hindering blocks. b) The studies (e.g. studies on human sense of touch) or technological advances (e.g. flexible electronics) that can help in solving some of the issues related to effective utilization of tactile sensing. The discussion/topic of interest would include (but not limited to): • The innovations in tactile sensing technology for high density areas like fingertips. • Various skin technologies for covering large areas of robot’s body. • Issues related to integration of sensors/sensor arrays/skin with the robot’s body. • Innovations in intrinsic and extrinsic tactile sensing. • Human/biological inspired sense of touch for robotics. • Studies on human sense of touch that can help improve the robotic touch sensing system. • Simulation/modeling the touch sensing with/without other sense modalities. • Multimodal interaction systems involving sense of touch. • Hardware for haptic/tactile interaction. • Modeling dynamics of deformable and soft objects for haptic/tactile feedback. • Perception of materials using tactile feedback. • Experiments on robots utilizing tactile information. • Humanoid/Robotic platforms that include tactile sensing. The full day workshop is intended to attract the audience from areas like tactile sensing, haptics, muti-modal sensing, microsystems, electronics, human sense of touch and robotics.

Tentative list of Invited Speakers: 1. Prof. R. S. Johansson. 2. Prof. Giorgio Cannata

Abstract Submission Guidelines: Researchers are requested to submit a 2 page abstract outlining their past/new work . The accepted abstracts will be presented as lecture/posters at the workshop and be published as part of the workshop proceedings. After workshop it is planned to include the papers in an edited book.