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Sensing, Intelligence, Motion: How Robots and Humans Move in an Unstructured World by Vladimir J. Lumelsky

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image CHAPTER 8

Sensitive Skin — Designing an All-Sensitive Robot Arm Manipulator

I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough.

— Jean Kerr, writer

8.1 INTRODUCTION

Similar to Chapter 7, the present chapter may strike some readers as being somewhat out of place in this book. The author agrees: As a confession, the chapter was added to the book after a serious hesitation on the author's part. After all, the primary topic of the book is strategies for sensor-based robot motion planning. Indeed, Chapters 3 to 6 do concentrate on algorithms and software. So what is the logic of suddenly switching now to hardware?

We have a problem, though. On the one hand, yes, strategies and algorithms are what we set out to study in this text. But, once the readers go through those chapters, they will be right to take us to task: How can we be sure that those strategies can be implemented in real systems? After all, those chapters imply that an important prerequisite of sensor-based motion planning algorithms is a whole-body sensing ability—an ability by the robot to sense surrounding objects at every point of its body. This is a hardware component, and such hardware is hardly an off-the-shelf item. Is it even feasible?

We are therefore obliged to convince the reader that the whole-body sensing is indeed feasible. In fact, this is exactly how the research had proceeded: ...

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