This paper presents a new tactile sensor system and an active sensing technique to realize active object surface sensing. Experimental results are also presented. The tactile sensor unit implemented on the robot hand consists of three force-sensitive resistors arranged triangularly. The unit can detect not only the reactive force from the object, but also determine the orientation of the object surface. Three possible applications are introduced. The first application is three-dimensional (3-D) object edge tracing, which can be employed in industrial processes such as welding and inspection to eliminate manual teaching procedures. The second application is the control of a hand pose to keep the direction of the hand normal to the object surface in 3-D, which is often necessary when pushing an object. Third is the realization of effective human-robot cooperation to move an object together.
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