27 March 2015 Testing of tactile sensors for space applications
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There is a need to integrate tactile sensing into robotic manipulators performing tasks in space environments, including those used to repair satellites. Integration can be achieved by embedding specialized tactile sensors. Reliable and consistent signal interpretation can be obtained by ensuring that sensors with a suitable sensing mechanism are selected based on operational demands, and that materials used within the sensors do not change structurally under vacuum and expected applied pressures, and between temperatures of -80°C to +120°C. The sensors must be able to withstand space environmental conditions and remain adequately sensitive throughout their operating life. Additionally, it is necessary to integrate the sensors into the target system with minimum disturbance while remaining responsive to applied loads. Previous work has been completed to characterize sensors within the selected temperature and pressure ranges. The current work builds on this investigation by embedding these sensors in different geometries and testing the response measured among varying configurations. Embedding material selection was aided by using a dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA) to determine stress/strain behavior for adhesives and compliant layers used to keep the sensors in place and distribute stresses evenly. Electromechanical characterization of the embedded sensor packages was conducted by using the DMA in tandem with an inductance-capacitance-resistance (LCR) meter. Methods for embedding the sensor packages were developed with the aid of finite element analysis and physical testing to account for specific geometrical constraints. Embedded sensor prototypes were tested within representative models of potential embedding locations to compare final embedded sensor performance.
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Lisa Kogan, Lisa Kogan, Timothy L. Weadon, Timothy L. Weadon, Thomas Evans, Thomas Evans, David B. DeVallance, David B. DeVallance, Edward M. Sabolsky, Edward M. Sabolsky, "Testing of tactile sensors for space applications", Proc. SPIE 9435, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2015, 94352A (27 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2085576; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2085576

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