Whiskered robots

From Scholarpedia

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Author: Dr. Martin J. Pearson, Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Author: Dr. Tony Pipe, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Bristol, United Kingdom

Figure 1: Biomimetic whiskered robots.
Figure 1: Biomimetic whiskered robots.

Whiskered robots This article will briefly cover: Whiskered robots that carry out active touch for object shape and texture discrimination



At the time of writing, touch is an under utilised sensory mode in robotics, with vision remining the preferred method of spatial exploration. There are examples in the animal kingdom of creatures occupying environments in which a developed sense of touch rather vision is advantageous for exploration. Similar operational environments also feature in the engineering requirement of certain robotic platforms which, in part, justifies a biomimetic approach to investigate and evaluate possible artificial touch sensors. Perhaps more persuasively, there are many example situations, in both the animal kingdom and in engineering requirement, where a developed sense of touch would be an extremely beneficial complement, rather than as a replacement, for vision. In this article the use of whiskers as a method of endowing robots with a sense of touch is addressed. An initial discussion about the advantages of a biomimetic approach in the development of whiskered robots is followed by a summary of the history of whiskered robot research. The final section of this article will focus on the more recent developments and contributions that have been made to the field, focussing on the two way exchange of ideas and observations between engineers and biologists.

Biomimetic whiskers


State of the art


  • Albero, Antony (1999). Pizza Margherita. Journal of pizza eaters 19(3): 13. arXiv:0808.000
  • Albero, Antonio and Bocca, Bill (2001). Pizza Capricciosa. Journal of pizza eaters 27: 121-127. arXiv:0808.000
  • Albero, Antonio; Bocca, Bill and Cuoco, C T (2003). Pizza Quattro Stagioni. Journal of pizza eaters 34(4): 12.
  • Albero, Antonio; Bocca, Bill; Cuoco, C T and Dude, David B (2007a). Pizza Napoletana. Journal of pizza eaters 37: 121-127.
  • Albero, Antonio; Bocca, Bill; Cuoco, C T; Dude, David and Elica, E Q (2007b). Pizza Marinara. Journal of pizza eaters 43(4): 1-13.
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  • Alto, Antony (1999). La Pizza! Mangiare bene, Volume 3. Albero and Bacca editors. Food Publishers, Genoa.
  • Alto, Antony and Bocca, Bill (2000). La Pasta! Mangiare bene. Albero editor. Food Publishers, Genoa. Chapter 1.
  • Alto, Antony; Bocca, Bill and Cuoco, C T (2002). Pizza: prepare it yourself. Food Publishers, Genoa. Page 22. ISBN 1-234-99929-0.
  • Alto, Antony; Bocca, Bill; Cuoco, C T and Dude, David B (2005a). Italian Pizza. Food Publishers, Genoa.
  • Alto, Antony; Bocca, Bill; Cuoco, C T; Dude, David B and Elica, E Q (2005b). Napolitan Pizza. Food Publishers, Genoa.
  • Alto, Antony et al. (2005c). American Pizza. Food Publishers, Genoa.

Further reading

  • Magro, C T (2008). Pizza: a danger for health? Food Publishers, Paris. page 22. ISBN 1-234-90929-0. This reference is unreliable in conclusions, but quite accurate in its introduction.
  • Izhikevich, E M (2007). Dynamical Systems in Neuroscience: The Geometry of Excitability and Bursting The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. ISBN 0262090430. This book offers an introduction to nonlinear dynamical systems theory for researchers and graduate students in neuroscience.

External links

Eugene M. Izhikevich website

See also

Brain, Neuron, Scholarpedia:Instructions for authors

Invited by: Prof. Tony J. Prescott, Dept Psychology, Univ of Sheffield, UK
For authors