Professor Perla Maiolino has received support from Brasenose College for establishing her new Soft Robotics Lab at Oxford Robotics Institute and to pursue research related to providing robots with a “Sense of Touch”. To achieve this important goal, it is necessary first of all to have the availability of a suitable tactile sensor technology. Professor Maiolino has developed one of the few existing solutions for artificial skin for robots: CySkin technology. CySkin consists of a flexible printed circuit board hosting distributed capacitive sensors which can be seen as “mechanoreceptors” and can be cut to fit a 3D surface to cover and integrate with it. This artificial skin has been integrated on several robotic platforms, demonstrating its portability and versatility.
Another important aspect is related to the understanding of tactile perception mechanisms. In biological organisms, tactile perception is active and done through the body: the sensory information that reaches the brain is critically shaped by the active generation of sensory stimuli. In this respect the main objective of this research is to explore and exploit body softness and morphology in robots and to develop an understanding about its role in tactile perception to achieve robotic intelligent behaviour.
The Brasenose research fund awarded supported this research in several ways, of instance contributing to the production of a new batch of CySkin technology. CySkin has been integrated in several robotic platforms for experiments related to robot tactile perception and tactile based control. In particular aspects under investigation are the role of robot body morphology and sensory motor coordination. Brasenose has also helped fund travel to various conferences.
Professor Maiolino teaches on the undergraduate Engineering Science course, mainly for electronic and information engineering topics. Read more here.