Adjustable Compliance Soft Sensor via an Elastically Inflatable Fluidic Dome

Zhang, Xingtian, Kow, Jun, Jones, Dominic, de Boer, Greg, Ghanbari, Ali orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1087-8426, Serjouei, Ahmad, Culmer, Peter and Alazmani, Ali (2021) Adjustable Compliance Soft Sensor via an Elastically Inflatable Fluidic Dome. Sensors, 21 (6).

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Soft sensors are essential for robotic systems to safely interact with humans and the environment. Although significant research has been carried out in the field of soft tactile sensing, most of these sensors are restricted to a predefined geometry and a fixed measurement range, hence limiting their application. This paper introduces a novel approach to soft sensing by proposing a soft load-sensing unit with an adjustable mechanical compliance achieved using an elastically inflatable fluidic dome. The sensor consists of a three-dimensional Hall-effect sensor, above which is a magnet whose movement is modulated by an intermediate elastomeric dome structure. Sensor configurations were designed and fabricated using three different silicone rubbers to cover ‘00–10’ and ‘20A’ durometer shore hardness scales. We demonstrated that the compliance of the sensor could be dynamically tuned by changing the internal pressure of the inflatable fluidic dome in all configurations. We performed finite element simulations to determine the reaction force of the sensor under load as well as the stresses within the internal structural behavior, which are not possible to capture experimentally. The proposed soft sensor has the potential to be readily adapted for use in various soft robotic applications of differing size, compliance range, and safety requirements.

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