A bending sensor insensitive to pressure: soft proprioception based on abraded optical fibres
Optical sensors have recently been proposed for sensing bending, linear strains and external forces in soft actuators. However, the susceptibility of these sensors to a number of stimuli makes it difficult to comprehend the resulting data output. We address this challenge through the introduction of a low-cost flexible bending sensor based upon the abrasion of optical channels. Such sensors are responsive to bending while being insensitive to internal pressure or external forces. The developed sensor is integrated into a soft pneumatic finger in order to obtain feedback of its curvature. We further demonstrate that the sensor is insensitive to normal forces applied on a blocked finger. Through this work, we propose a simple, low-cost sensor development technique towards addressing the challenge of decoupling forces and deformations in soft robots.