Sensing the world

  • Mark H. Lee
Part of the Open University Press Robotics Series book series (OUPRS)


A robot sensor is a transducer that converts physical effects into electrical signals which can be processed by measuring instruments or computers. Just as biological sensors vary in their performance and relative utility so do man-made receptors have different powers and scope. In order to use sensors effectively we must have a sound understanding of sensor technology and its application in advanced automation. It is a truism that sensing is essential for intelligent systems, but the important corollary is that the quality and effectiveness of the sensory system ultimately determines the limits of intelligence. For intelligent robotics it is vital that well-designed and well-organized sensory capabilities are built into the system from the outset.


Sensory Field Sensor Selection Intelligent Robotic Robot Sensor Switching Resistive Effect 
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Further reading material

  1. There are many manufacturers’ catalogues and data sheets giving sensor characteristics and operational and performance information. There are also many textbooks on sensors, transduction and measurement technology. Examples are Robot Sensors and Transducers by S. R. Ruocco (Open University Press, 1987) and the two-volume collection of papers entitled Robot Sensors, edited by A. Pugh (Springer, 1986). The journal Sensor Review gives information about new sensor developments.Google Scholar
  2. There has been little work on the fusion of sensor data. A paper by T. Henderson and E. Shilcrat, ‘Logical sensor systems’, in the Journal of Robotic Systems (1984), volume 1, number 2, pp. 169–193, deals with a systematic approach to sensor integration. The book by H. Durrant-Whyte, Integration, Coordination and Control of Multi-Sensor Robot-Systems (Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1988), looks like a promising text. Another source is Spatial Reasoning and Multi-Sensor Fusion: Proceedings of the 1987 Workshop, edited by A. Kak and S. Chen (Morgan Kaufman, 1987 ).Google Scholar
  3. For robot motion control and monitoring, the paper by T. Lozano-Perez, ‘Robot programming’ in the Proceedings of the IEEE (1983), volume 71, number 7, pp. 821–841, gives a good discussion of the requirements for sensors in robot control.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark H. Lee 1989

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  • Mark H. Lee

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