Composite Force Sensing Foot Utilizing Volumetric Displacement of a Hyperelastic Polymer

TitleComposite Force Sensing Foot Utilizing Volumetric Displacement of a Hyperelastic Polymer
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsChuah, M.Y.M.., M. Estrada, and S. Kim
Conference NameIntelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on
Date Published10/2012
Conference LocationVilamoura, Portugal
ISBN Number978-1-4673-1737-5
Accession Number13195574

This paper illustrates the fabrication and characterization of a footpad based on an original principle ofvolumetric displacement sensing. It is intended for use in detecting ground contact forces in a running quadrupedal robot. The footpad is manufactured as a monolithic, composite structure composed of multi-graded polymers which are reinforced by glass fiber to increase durability and traction. Thevolumetric displacement sensing principle utilizes a hyperelastic gel-like pad with embedded magnets that are tracked with Hall-effect sensors. Normal and shear forces can be detected as contact with the ground which causes the gel-like pad to deform into rigid wells. This is all done without the need to expose the sensor. A one-time training process using an artificial neural network was used to relate the normal and shear forces with the volumetric displacement sensor output. The sensor was shown to predict normal forces in the Z-axis up to 80N with a root mean squared error of 6.04% as well as the onset of shear in the X and Y-axis. This demonstrates a proof-of-concept for a more robust footpad sensor suitable for use in all outdoor conditions.