With the increasing frequency of human-robot interactions, as is the case with cobots (collaborative robots), service robots, exoskeletons and prosthetics, safety protocols have become essential. Robotic skin technology forms a crucial part of enhancing human-robot interaction and safety, allowing for real time sensing and reacting. Typical robotic skins require wired connections for data transmission and power supply, thereby limiting their application spectrum and posing challenges in adaptability and configuration. Additionally, most robotic skin technologies employ a touch-stop safeguarding scheme, which can lead to serious pinch injuries. Current designs pose a myriad of other challenges including complex manufacturing processes, extensive reconfiguration for different robot geometries, and inconvenient data management.

Technology Overview

Northeastern researchers have invented a robotic skin-based motion control system to effectively monitor and control human-machine interaction. The system involves flexible skin modules, along with a data processing unit. Each flexible skin module contains a flexible skin patch equipped with an array of sensors to collect tactile data. A data processing unit then wirelessly transmits the tactile data to a workstation which then generates and transmits robot control instructions. The system also utilizes distributed computing, enabling high-speed kinetic tracking of all skin contacts across the robot’s surface. Unlike other systems that use the touch-stop safeguarding scheme, this system enables the robot to retract from the collision area to avoid damage and injury. Additionally, the modular battery powered design of the robotic skin enables ease of use and integration with a wide variety of robotic systems and applications.


  • Retracting and avoidance capabilities prevent injury during human-robot interactions
  • Manufactured using separate but complimentary materials, enhancing durability and flexibility
  • Non-invasive attachment allows easy adaptability on varied robotic surfaces
  • Modular, battery-powered scheme allows independent operation and longer usability
  • Software design enhances operational efficiency


  • Industrial robots: Aiding in safety and enhancing tasks in automation, manufacturing, and assembly lines
  • Prosthetics: The non-invasive attachment could be beneficial in designing advanced prosthetic limbs
  • Healthcare: Innovations in surgical procedures and patient handling robots
  • Unmanned ground vehicles (UGV)
  • Consumer electronics: Can augment the performance of daily-use electronic devices


Seeking licensing and industry partnership and research collaboration opportunities

IP Status:

Provisional Patent


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Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Shuo Jiang
Lawson Wong
Embedded Systems
Force Sensor
Haptic devices
soft robotics
Software and Algorithms