Researchers use neuromorphic chips and electronic ‘skin’ to give robots a sense of touch

We take our sense of touch for granted. Simple tasks like opening a jar or tying our shoelaces would be a whole lot more complex if we couldn’t feel the object with our hands. Robots typically struggle to replicate this sense, restricting their ability to manipulate objects. But researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) might have found a solution: pairing artificial skin with a neuromorphic “brain.”  The system was developed by a team led by Assistant Professors Benjamin Tee, an electronic skin expert, and Harold Soh, an AI specialist. Together, the duo has created a robotic perception system that combines touch and sight. They told TNW it’s 1,000 times more responsive than the human nervous system, and capable of identifying the shape, texture, and hardness of objects 10 times faster than the blink of an eye. Tee calls it “the most intelligent skin ever.” [Read: Neuromorphic computing chip could ‘smell’ explosives] However, the artificial skin only solves half the puzzle of giving robots a sense of touch. “They also need an artificial brain that can ultimately achieve perception and learning to complete the puzzle,” said Soh. An artificial nervous system The researchers built their artificial brain with Intel’s neuromorphic research chip: Loihi. The chip processes data from an artificial “spiking”…  


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