Robot Skin; FIRST Robotics - Michigan Regional Contest; One Million - the posters


Robot Skin by Peratech

ROBOT SKIN (sensor net)

Several people over the years have told me that their work was being held back by the lack of a good robot skin.  What they meant was an economical sensor net that could cover their robot and sense not only the finger tips but also the arm bumping into things, the real world being messy like it is.   What Paratech has come up with looks like a much better solution than I have been able to come up with.    As a quick fix a few years ago I suggested covering the robot we were working on with surplus keyboards we had available.  Not only did the keyboards contain the chip that could sort out info from 114 points of contact but they also were cheap, being produced in the large numbers that they are.   Well, Paratech’s solution not only gives you the point of contact, but also the amount of pressure, temperature, texture, etc. so they are way beyond my keyboard idea.

Quantum Tunnelling Composites by Paratech are electro-active polymeric materials made from metallic or non-metallic filler particles combined in an elastomeric binder. These enable the action of ‘touch’ to be translated into an electrical reaction, enabling a vast array of devices to incorporate very thin and highly robust ’sensing’ of touch and pressure. QTC’s unique properties enable it to be made into force sensitive switches of any shape or size. QTC switches and switch matrices can be screen printed allowing for development and integration of switches that are as thin as 75 microns. 

Once again it is FIRST Robotics Week here in Traverse City, MI.  What is different this year is that I have been asked to be a judge for the event and will be in the thick of it for most of the week.  The event itself is Friday and Saturday.   I attended one day of the event last year and reported about it here in CE Online,  it was intense.  I am wondering what being immersed in it, rather than just observing it as a reporter, is going to be like.  I will let you know.

Students, grades 9 -12, get to:
   Learn from professional engineers
   Build and compete with a robot of their own design
   Learn and use sophisticated software and hardware
   Compete and cooperate in alliances and tournaments
   Earn a place in the World Championship
   Qualify for over $12 million in college scholarships

See also:

This is a great set of 4-H posters.  I have the third one here in my barn workshop.  It is a fresh take on a painting called “Sistine Robot” which is a robot spoof of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting ”Creation Of Adam”.

This is your chance to let me and the other readers know what is on your mind.  You can use the comments section at the end of the column to let us know what you think.   I will be watching for your comments and suggestions.

Keep track of TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club developments by joining their Yahoo NewsGroup at: 

To subscribe to AIMing for Automated Vehicles as a RSS feed: If you are using Internet Explorer to read this page, go to  and add it to your “Favorites” by clicking the little gold star with a green plus sign in your tool bar, then click on “subscribe to this feed…”. To view the feed in the future you go to “Favorites” by clicking on the little gold star and AIMing for Automated Vehicles should be listed there. Click on it and catch up on what is new!


Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer
American Industrial Magic, LLC
“small engine and machinery repair”
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club
“Science, Engineering, and Technology”
390 4-Mile Rd. S.
Traverse City, MI 49686-8411
(231) 883-4463 Cell
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club:
CE Magazine:

Posted by Paul F. Grayson on March 2, 2010

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