Soft-smart robotic end effectors with sensing, actuation, and gripping capabilities

Chaoqun Xiang, Jianglong Guo, Jonathan Rossiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
322 Downloads (Pure)


Soft and smart robotic end effectors with integrated sensing, actuation, and gripping capabilities are important for autonomous and intelligent grasping and manipulation of difficult-to-handle and delicate materials. Grasping and actuation are challenging to achieve if using only one opto-mechanical tactile sensor. It is highly desirable to equip these useful sensors with multimodal actuation and gripping functionalities. Current electroadhesive (EA) grippers, however, cannot differentiate object size and shape, nor can they grasp concave or convex objects. In this paper, we present TacEA, an integration of a pneumatically actuated visio-tactile (TacTip) sensor and a stretchable EA pad, resulting in a monolithic soft-smart robotic end effector with concomitant sensing, actuation, and gripping capabilities. This soft composite-materials device delivers the first soft tactile sensor with actuation and gripping capability and the first EA end effector that can sort different 2D object sizes and shapes with one touch, and which can grasp flat, concave and convex objects. The soft-smart TacEA is expected to widen the capabilities of current tactile sensors and increase EA end effector use in material handling and in processing and assembly lines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number055034
Number of pages10
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number5
Early online date23 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • electroadhesion
  • exteroception
  • opto-mechanical tactile sensor
  • proprioception
  • soft electroadhesive


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