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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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(p.153) Chapter 16 Touch
Living machines

Nathan F. Lepora

Oxford University Press

Touch is the ability to perceive the world through physical contact. This article describes three principles underlying biological touch sensing and how these principles can result in biomimetic devices. First, that cutaneous touch is superresolved, in that the accuracy of perceiving fine stimulus detail is finer than the spacing between individual sensory mechanoreceptors. Second, that touch is active, in that animals actively select and refine sensations in a purposive manner. Third, that touch is exploratory, in that animals deploy purposive action patterns to encode properties of objects via a lexicon of exploratory procedures. Biomimetic tactile systems have utilized these principles to result in superior sensing capabilities, including systems that mimic the human fingertip and hand (cutaneous touch) and the rodent whisker system (vibrissal touch). Future biomimetic touch could rival human capabilities, enabling tactile sensors to have technological applications spanning across prosthetics, telehaptics, surgical robotics, wearable computing, medical probes, and manufacturing.

Keywords:   touch, tactile, haptic, active perception, active touch, superresolution, tactile sensing, exploratory procedure, cutaneous, vibrissal

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