2016 Volume 24 Issue 3 Pages 204-209
Flexible cushioned tactile sensors are important for safe interaction between humans and communication robots, and therefore, several types of sensors have been developed. However, these sensors have problems in durability and maintainability because they have wirings or solids in their fragile flexible part. In this study, we propose a magnetic type flexible tactile sensor that does not contain any wiring and any solid except for minute particles of iron in its surface flexible layer. The sensor has a permanent magnet and a magnetic sensor at the bottom of its flexible layer and detects deformations of the surface layer containing iron particles (magnetorheological elastomer) as changes of the output of the magnetic sensor. Simulation results and experimental results with a developed sensor showed that the proposed sensor can measure depths of surface depression produced by normal forces, and that the sensitivity and the measurement range of the prototype sensor depend on the thickness of the both elastomers.