Touch-triggered withdrawal reflexes for safer robots

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Covering robots with a skin-like sensor enables a range of skills that improve human-robot interaction (HRI) both in terms of safety and communication. In this chapter we review current knowledge of human reflexes and suggest a role for reflexes with tactile triggers in the context of robot safety. We focus in particular on the human nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR), i.e., the reflex that causes withdrawal from painful stimuli. We present experimental data from human NWR motion capture as well as a basic model and implementation of a set of NWRs for the Nao humanoid robot.


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