FISHING keys from the bottom of a bag or picking up soft fruit are pretty basic tasks for us humans. Now they’re getting a little easier for robots, too.
For a robot to recognise and grasp different objects usually requires complex programming and processing power. But Xiaodong Chen at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and his colleagues have got around this by developing flexible, skin-inspired sensors that store pressure information about objects they come into contact with. The sensors work like our haptic memory, which can retain an impression of what a touch felt like after the stimulus has gone.