Tactile superresolution and biomimetic hyperacuity

Nathan F Lepora, Uriel Martinez-Hernandez, Mathew J. Evans, Lorenzo Natale, Giorgio Metta, Tony Prescott

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

51 Citations (Scopus)
133 Downloads (Pure)


Motivated by the impact of superresolution methods for imaging, we undertake a detailed and systematic analysis of localization acuity for a biomimetic fingertip and a flat region of tactile skin. We identify three key factors underlying superresolution that enable the perceptual acuity to surpass the sensor resolution: 1) the sensor is constructed with multiple overlapping, broad but sensitive receptive fields; 2) the tactile perception method interpolates between receptors (taxels) to attain subtaxel acuity; and 3) active perception ensures robustness to unknown initial contact location. All factors follow from active Bayesian perception applied to biomimetic tactile sensors with an elastomeric covering that spreads the contact over multiple taxels. In consequence, we attain extreme superresolution with a 35-fold improvement of localization acuity (0.12 mm) over sensor resolution (4 mm). We envisage that these principles will enable cheap high-acuity tactile sensors that are highly customizable to suit their robotic use. Practical applications encompass any scenario where an end-effector must be placed accurately via the sense of touch.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number3
Early online date2 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2015


  • Bayes methods
  • biomimetics
  • image resolution
  • skin
  • tactile sensors
  • force and tactile sensing


Dive into the research topics of 'Tactile superresolution and biomimetic hyperacuity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this