In a previous post I mentioned that our VEX robotics group at school had made a simple mistake, they started to build a VEX Clawbot without checking in the box of goodies… They didn't actually have a claw to mount on it. This meant that they investigated making their own by 3D printing using our Bits from Bytes machine.
This has been pretty successful and they are in the final stages of assembling and testing. However at the same time Dr Simon Leigh from the University of Warwick visited our school to show the students a new material called “Carbomorph” (an electrically conductive polymer). This started some discussion amongst the group, wondering if Carbomorph could be used to provide feedback for the claw by using it for touch sensors.
It's an interesting thought and something that needs to be investigated later… How can this interface with the Cortex controller? will Carbomorph be sensitive enough? How can the feedback be coded using the software? Etc.
So to get things started I helped the students out with their design for a modified claw (the finger part) that incorporates a Carbomorph gripping surface (the touch pad) and built in Carbomorph “wiring”. This can be seen in the photographs … Sorry that it isn't very clear but we had black translucent PLA loaded in the printer and the black Carbomorph doesn't show up too well.
This does raise more questions and design/engineering opportunities and the group should really focus on getting the robot finished before taking on more challenges…. So it will be interesting to see how this develops.