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Robot whiskers sense shapes and textures

Joseph H. Solomon and Mitra J. Hartmann reported in Nature (vol. 443, p. 525, October 2006) development of robotic whiskers:

"Several species of terrestrial and marine mammals with whiskers (vibrissae) use them to sense and navigate in their environment — for example, rats use their whiskers to discern the features of objects, and seals rely on theirs to track the hydrodynamic trails of their prey. Here we show that the bending moment — sometimes referred to as torque — at the whisker base can be used to generate three-dimensional spatial representations of the environment, and we use this principle to construct robotic whisker arrays that extract precise information about object shape and fluid flow."

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