Contact type dependency of texture classification in a whiskered mobile robot


Actuated artificial whiskers modeled on rat macrovibrissae can provide effective tactile sensor systems for autonomous robots. This article focuses on texture classification using artificial whiskers and addresses a limitation of previous studies, namely, their use of whisker deflection signals obtained under relatively constrained experimental conditions. Here we consider the classification of signals obtained from a whiskered robot required to explore different surface textures from a range of orientations and distances. This procedure resulted in a variety of deflection signals for any given texture. Using a standard Gaussian classifier we show, using both hand-picked features and ones derived from studies of rat vibrissal processing, that a robust rough-smooth discrimination is achievable without any knowledge of how the whisker interacts with the investigated object. On the other hand, finer discriminations appear to require knowledge of the target’s relative position and/or of the manner in which the whisker contact its surface.

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Correspondence to Charles W. Fox.

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Fox, C.W., Mitchinson, B., Pearson, M.J. et al. Contact type dependency of texture classification in a whiskered mobile robot. Auton Robot 26, 223–239 (2009).

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  • Whiskers
  • Vibrissae
  • Tactile sensing
  • Texture discrimination