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Michael Hofbaur, head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at Joanneum Research , recently gave the Austrian news portal derStandard.at insight into the development of a feeling skin for robots. The coating developed in cooperation with the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt uses a capacitive sensor system that can detect people within a radius of about 20 cm. An AI module evaluates the sensory data and then triggers an action.

Based on these capabilities, the robot can stop if there is a threat of collision with a human. They also allow the machine to have more natural-looking movements in response to direct, human interactions. Previous Cobots rely predominantly on a combination of long-range laser scanners and a collision query. Unlike the foil-like skin, it creates an electric field by means of electrodes. The distance of approaching objects, as well as their speed, is calculated from the distortion. In the long run, collaborative robots in combination with high-performance AI systems should be better able to handle the shape of picked-up objects.