Vibrissa-based design of tapered tactile sensors for object sensing
Numerous mammals possess whiskers (tactile hairs, also known as vibrissae) to explore their environment. These complex mechano-sensitive vibrissae are located, e.g. in the snout region (mystacial vibrissae). Because of the deformation of the vibrissa by contact with objects and obstacles, the animal gets additional information about the environment. Despite different morphology of animal vibrissae (e.g., cylindrically or conically shaped, precurved, multi-layer structure), these biological tactile hairs are modeled in a mechanical way to develop and analyze models concerning their bending behavior with a glance to get hints for a technical implementation as a technical sensor. At first, we investigate the bending behavior of cylindrically shaped and tapered rods which are one-sided clamped and are under the load of an external force, using the Euler-Bernoulli non-linear bending theory. Then, a quasi-static sweep of these rods along various obstacle profiles is used for an obstacle profile reconstruction procedure. While scanning the object, the clamping reactions are determined, which are the only observables an animal relies on in biology. In plotting these observables and using them in a reconstruction algorithm to determine the scanned contour, we try to identify special features in dependence on the different geometries of the rods. The clamping reactions tremendously depend on the form and position of the profile which is shown in several numerical simulations.
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