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Why Sensitive Robots?

Updated: May 29

Robuki force torque sensors on the feet of ANYbotics ANYmal

Have you ever considered using robots for the world's dirtiest jobs? The autonomous robot featured in the video, is working in the Zurich sewers. The robot is inspecting with its sense of touch!

Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. These are the five senses that humans can use to better understand and interact with the world.

To interact with our environment, first-hand or with robots, we typically use one or a combination of the senses. Sight and touch are the most common when inspecting, recognizing, and manipulating objects. When visual information is not available, the inspection can be more difficult. However, by simply touching an object and detecting important characteristics like roughness, hardness, size, and weight, you can gather enough information to recognize it (likes these guys), even without sight.

Quadruped Robot with Sensitive Feet

In the application with the quadruped robot inspecting sewers, the robot's feet are integrated with Rokubi force/torque sensors by Bota Systems, and they give the robot a sense of touch.

While the autonomous robot walks, the feet interact with the sewer's floor and identifies concrete deterioration and where maintenance is needed. There are thousands of kilometers of sewers that need to be inspected and maintained in our cities. With sewer inspection being time-consuming, physically exhausting, and a less-than-ideal work environment, a robot inspection alternative might be best.

For experimental results, see this publication [1].

UAVs With the Sense of Touch

Besides sewers and harsh environments, there are plenty of cases where robotic systems are an alternative for inspection and maintenance. For instance, UAV applications can access bridges, buildings, ship vessels, pressure vessels, wind turbines, and power plants with ease. They can interact with structures and environments that are too dangerous or inaccessible to humans.

The omnidirectional UAV incorporating a Rokubi force/torque sensor into its system demonstrates its set of skills for concrete inspection and other applications. With the FT sensor, the UAV can measure forces applied from the concrete, identify if it is in contact with the wall or not, and limit its applied forces.

For experimental results, see this publication [2].

Bota System Force Torque Sensors

Bota Systems force/torque sensors are ideal for lightweight designs, robots, and other systems operating in dirty/hazardous environments. They have been developed to absorb impact, measure reliably, and are easy to use. Reach us at


[1] H Kolvenbach, G Valsecchi, R Grandia, A Ruiz, F Jenelten, M Hutter, "Tactile Inspection of Concrete Deterioration in Sewers with Legged Robots", 12th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2019).

[2] Karen Bodie, Maximilian Brunner , Michael Pantic, Stefan Walser , Patrick Pfandler , Ueli Angst , Roland Siegwart and Juan Nieto, "An Omnidirectional Aerial Manipulation Platform for Contact-Based Inspection", Robotics: Science and Systems 2019 15 (19).