Mechanical sensors and actuators

Mechanical sensors and actuators

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The hand is the main body organ for interaction with the environment. An actuator as well as a sensor, it is an amazing organ when one really thinks about it. As an actuator it contains 27 bones, of which 14 make up the fi ngers or digital bones (3 on each finger except the thumb, which has only two), 5 are in the palm (metacarpal bones), and 8 in the wrist (carpal bones). Their structure and interconnections together with a complex series of muscles and tendons give the human hand a fl exibility and dexterity not found in any other animal. Apes, monkeys, and lemurs have hands similar to humans, and other animals such as the koala have opposing thumbs, which are useful for climbing, but none are as fl exible as the human hand. The hand can perform articulation of the finger bones, between the fi ngers and the palm, between the palm and the wrist, and between the wrist and the arm. Together with additional articulations at the elbow and shoulder, the hand is a multiaxis actuator capable of surprisingly delicate as well as gross motions. But the hand is also a tactile sensor. The fi ngertips in particular have the densest nerve endings in the body. They provide feedback for manipulation of objects or sense by direct touch. The hands are controlled by opposing brain hemispheres (left hand by the right hemisphere and right hand by the left hemisphere). This is true of other paired organs, including the eyes and legs.

Chapter Contents:

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Some definitions and units
  • 6.3 Force sensors
  • 6.3.1 Strain gauges
  • 6.3.2 Semiconductor strain gauges
  • Application
  • Errors
  • 6.3.3 Other strain gauges
  • 6.3.4 Force and tactile sensors
  • 6.4 Accelerometers
  • 6.4.1 Capacitive accelerometers
  • 6.4.2 Strain gauge accelerometers
  • 6.4.3 Magnetic accelerometers
  • 6.4.4 Other accelerometers
  • 6.5 Pressure sensors
  • 6.5.1 Mechanical pressure sensors
  • 6.5.2 Piezoresistive pressure sensors
  • 6.5.3 Capacitive pressure sensors
  • 6.5.4 Magnetic pressure sensors
  • 6.6 Velocity sensing
  • 6.7 Inertial sensors: gyroscopes
  • 6.7.1 Mechanical or rotor gyroscopes
  • 6.7.2 Optical gyroscopes
  • 6.8 Problems

Inspec keywords: actuators; tactile sensors

Other keywords: metacarpal bones; mechanical sensors; tactile sensor; carpal bones; multiaxis actuators

Subjects: Sensing and detecting devices; Sensing devices and transducers

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