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Abstract

Tactile sensing is a key sensor modality for robots interacting with their surroundings. These sensors provide a rich and diverse set of data signals that contain detailed information collected from contacts between the robot and its environment. The data are however not limited to individual contacts and can be used to extract a wide range of information about the objects in the environment as well as the actions of the robot during the interactions. In this article, we provide an overview of tactile information and its applications in robotics. We present a hierarchy consisting of raw, contact, object, and action levels to structure the tactile information, with higher-level information often building upon lower-level information. We discuss different types of information that can be extracted at each level of the hierarchy. The article also includes an overview of different types of robot applications and the types of tactile information that they employ. Finally we end the article with a discussion for future tactile applications which are still beyond the current capabilities of robots.