Reaching out: load cells for robotic datasets and other news

Published On: June 30 2023

No sooner had we published our previous article on load cells and robotic grip than a new paper is published about load cells and hand kinematics data.

Autonomous robots rely on accurate datasets for their initial programming and set-up, and to tailor their grip to the required task. If the data only exists for gripping steel cans, and you want a robot to gently grip a crystal glass, for example, that can be a problem.

One of the other issues is the reaching phase, where the robotic hand travels towards the object. A team writing in Nature’s ‘Scientific Data’ journal noted that there were very few existing datasets for this ‘reach to grasp’ action. They wanted to create a data set that was “specifically tailored for autonomous grasping of a robotic hand.”

To do this the team needed to:

“Capture target object characteristics from radar and time-of-flight proximity sensors, as well as details of the reach-to-grasp action by looking at wrist and fingers kinematics, and at hand-object interaction main events.”

To collect data for all stages, researchers wore an instrumented glove fitted with multiple strain gauges and data acquisition electronics. They reached for and picked up a variety of standard shaped objects including spheres, cones and flat items. TAs the team explained:

“All objects were manipulated over one or two platforms each instrumented by a load cell. The load cells allow tracking of an action’s most salient events like touch, lift-off, replace and release.”

This approach delivering almost 6000 human-object interactions for the dataset, which the team hope will be useful for autonomous grasping robots in:

  • health settings, assistive and/or rehabilitation robots
  • industrial settings, including warehouse collaborative robots
  • radar-based computer vision for recognition of objects
  • sensorimotor control and manipulation


Round in circles

Load cells and laser sensors were at the centre of a row at the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours race for 2023. According to an article in Autosport, no less than six P2 teams were given a 20minute stop-and-hold penalty for running illegal laser ride-height sensors during test runs.

According to the stewards’ bulletins, the use of sensors “gives a sporting advantage to the competitor”. However, Vector team principal Gary Holland said that the sensor data acquired was:

“Not a huge gain at all: we see it as a validation tool because everyone is running load cells on the push rods and damper potentiometers, plus of course everyone has a lot of historic data.”


Learning from the best

The International Rugby Experience in Limerick Ireland promises visitors ’six storeys of fully interactive, multifaceted digital engagement’ including individual and team-based skills trials. According to an article in Event Industry News,

“Visitors get to learn from legends including Jonny Wilkinson, Faf De Klerk, Keith Earls and Tadgh Furlong, via a ‘tech stack’ of touch screens, projectors, LiDAR sensors, laser spotlights and industrial load cells. “

Load cells are used across various sports for measuring, training and research, including neck strength testing fro rugby players , as discussed in our blog last year “Winning ways with load cells (Part 2)”


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