Robotics and artificial intelligence have gained growing attention in applications such as human machine interaction, healthcare, and bio-medicals. In empowering robotic platforms with accurate sensing functions and immediate smart response capabilities, flexible and smart electronics are expected to be fundamental elements and are required to offer signal-acquiring, signal-processing, and self-learning functions, as well as flexibility & stretchability to accommodate different touch surfaces under various motions or deformations. The architectures and devices based on embedded chips, organic semiconductors, nanocomposites have been previously studied, but none of them can simultaneously provide sufficient flexibility, sensitivity, and data-processing capability.
To overcome such obstacles, this project aims to develop a flexible & smart textile architecture integrated with a tactile sensor array and a memristive network using flexible carbon nanomaterials, and to conceptually demonstrate its sensing, signal-processing, and self-learning functions in robotic applications. The proposed sensor array is composed of both in-plane tensile sensors and out-of-plane compressive sensors that can provide 3D stress/strain distributions to represent the complex interactions, while the proposed memristive network is able to mimic human brain functions and thus can recognize these signal patterns after training. The combination of both of these technologies offers true smart functions without computation, enabling tremendous advances in the areas of artificial intelligence & robotics.