Sensory Feedback

When human operators perform any sort of manipulative task they are constantly receiving and acting upon, large amounts of sensory feedback. Individually these senses provide information about the environment, the operator and the task being performed. Human operators can also combine senses to perform the most complex of tasks. Examples are hand / eye coordination in order to pick and place an object; hand / eye and feel coordination in assembly tasks; hand / feel in assessment of surface texture.

There are six human senses which help to feedback information:

There are five primary reasons for employing sensory feedback in Robotic systems:

  1. To provide position and velocity information concerning the joint, arm and end effector status. This type of information is usually provided continually and in real time as the Robot is in motion.
  2. To prevent damage to the Robot itself, its surroundings and to human operators. These act as safety sensors, warning or alarm sensors and cut out devices.
  3. To eliminate the need for mechanically complex and expensive feeding and sorting devices.
  4. To provide identification, and to indicate the presence of different types of component.
  5. To provide real time information about the nature of the task being performed such that the Robot can be adaptable under varying conditions.

The majority of industrial Robots have very little built in sensory feedback, the reason for this is that once programmed industrial Robots are extremely good at performing predictable and precise tasks. However as the tasks become increasingly more demanding the variability with which they have to deal also increases. Thus there is an increasing need for sensory feedback.