Polymer-Fabric Pressure Sensor for Space Suits



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48th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Perception Robotics has developed an innovative new type of compliant tactile sensing solution—a polymeric-textile skin (PolySkinTM) that supports a variety of mechanical properties, and is inherently inexpensive; durable with high signal-to-noise ratio. PolySkin is ideal as pressure sensitive undergarment to measure load distribution under a space suit. The system has good resistance to aberrant readings when under moderate bending, shear or torsion; is sufficiently pliant to follow anatomical curves on the human skin without discomfort or lack of mobility. It can be fabricated in thin profiles (~mm) and packaged sufficiently small, free of rigid or sharp points that would cause discomfort, and it consumes low power (~5V, ~mA). This novel tactile sensor differentiates itself from prior tactile solutions with no electronic parts in the work space, is inexpensive to fabricate or modify the form factor. It is easy to mount to a variety surfaces and is mechanically, electrically and chemically robust.

The sensor functions via resistive transduction method: power and ground are routed through two textured layers of conductive polymer-textile blend. As compressive pressure is applied to the two layers, the contact area between the two and more current proportional to the pressure applied will conduct through the two layers. By measuring voltage changes through an intermediate grid of conductive textile electrodes, load and location can be extracted from contacting objects.

Here we will show results from a flat prototype sensor: force accuracy within 10%, dynamic range: 0.1 – 100N, high repeatability (<5% error) as well as tomography algorithms that register force centroid – all via USB output signal to a conventional computer. Finally, design of a fully scaled upper body garment will be presented.


Nicholas Wettels, Perception Robotics
Patrick Marshall, Perception Robotics
Benjamin Peters, NASA
Javid Mahmoudzadeh, Perception Robotics
ICES400: Extravehicular Activity: Space Suits
The 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on 08 July 2018 through 12 July 2018.


Tactile Sensor, Pressure Sensor, Space Suit