Tactile Sensors for Friction Estimation and Incipient Slip Detection - Toward Dexterous Robotic Manipulation: A Review

Wei Chen, Heba Khamisz, Ingvars Birznieks, Nathan Lepora, Stephen J Redmond

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

130 Citations (Scopus)
987 Downloads (Pure)


Humans can handle and manipulate objects with ease; however, human dexterity has yet to be matched by artificial systems. Receptors in our fingers and hands provide essential tactile information to the motor control system during dexterous manipulation such that the grip force is scaled to the tangential forces according to the coefficient of friction. Likewise, tactile sensing will become essential for robotic and prosthetic gripping performance as applications move toward unstructured environments. However, most existing research ignores the need to sense the frictional properties of the sensor-object interface, which (along with contact forces and torques) is essential for finding the minimum grip force required to securely grasp an object. Here, we review this problem by surveying the field of tactile sensing from the perspective that sensors should: 1) detect gross slip (to adjust the grip force); 2) detect incipient slip (dependent on the frictional properties of the sensor-object interface and the geometries and mechanics of the sensor and the object) as an indication of grip security; or 3) measure friction on contact with an object and/or following a gross or incipient slip event while manipulating an object. Recommendations are made to help focus future sensor design efforts toward a generalizable and practical solution to sense, and hence control grip security. Specifically, we propose that the sensor mechanics should encourage incipient slip, by allowing parts of the sensor to slip while other parts remain stuck, and that instrumentation should measure displacement and deformation to complement conventional force, pressure, and vibration tactile sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8453829
Pages (from-to)9049-9064
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number22
Early online date3 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • Friction
  • grip
  • manipulation
  • sensors
  • slip
  • tactile


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