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Journal Articles SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Year : 2022

Efficient tactile encoding of object slippage


When grasping objects, we rely on our sense of touch to adjust our grip and react against external perturbations. Less than 200 ms after an unexpected event, the sensorimotor system is able to process tactile information to deduce the frictional strength of the contact and to react accordingly. Given that roughly 1,300 afferents innervate the fingertips, it is unclear how the nervous system can process such a large influx of data in a sufficiently short time span. In this study, we measured the deformation of the skin during the initial stages of incipient sliding for a wide range of frictional conditions. We show that the dominant patterns of deformation are sufficient to estimate the distance between the frictional force and the frictional strength of the contact. From these stereotypical patterns, a classifier can predict if an object is about to slide during the initial stages of incipient slip. The prediction is robust to the actual value of the interfacial friction, showing sensory invariance. These results suggest the existence of a possible compact set of bases that we call Eigenstrains. These Eigenstrains are a potential mechanism to rapidly decode the margin from full slip from the tactile information contained in the deformation of the skin. Our findings suggest that only 6 of these Eigenstrains are necessary to classify whether the object is firmly stuck to the fingers or is close to slipping away. These findings give clues about the tactile regulation of grasp and the insights are directly applicable to the design of robotic grippers and prosthetics that rapidly react to external perturbations.

Dates and versions

hal-03989724 , version 1 (15-02-2023)



Laurence Willemet, Nicolas Huloux, Michael Wiertlewski. Efficient tactile encoding of object slippage. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 2022, 12 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-16938-1⟩. ⟨hal-03989724⟩


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