The TacTip Family: Soft Optical Tactile Sensors with 3D-Printed Biomimetic Morphologies

Benjamin Ward-Cherrier*, Nicholas Pestell, Luke Cramphorn, Maria Elena Giannaccini, Benjamin Winstone, Jonathan Rossiter, Nathan F. Lepora

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Citations (Scopus)
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Tactile sensing is an essential component in human-robot interaction and object manipulation. Soft sensors allow for safe interaction and improved gripping performance. Here we present the TacTip family of sensors: a range of soft optical tactile sensors with various morphologies fabricated through dual-material 3D printing. All of these sensors are inspired by the same biomimetic design principle: transducing deformation of the sensing surface via movement of pins analogous to the function of intermediate ridges within the human fingertip. The performance of the TacTip, TacTip-GR2, TacTip-M2, and TacCylinder sensors is here evaluated and shown to attain submillimeter accuracy on a rolling cylinder task, representing greater than 10-fold super-resolved acuity. A version of the TacTip sensor has also been open-sourced, enabling other laboratories to adopt it as a platform for tactile sensing and manipulation research. These sensors are suitable for real-world applications in tactile perception, exploration, and manipulation, and will enable further research and innovation in the field of soft tactile sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
JournalSoft Robotics
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Sam Coupland, Gareth Griffiths, and Samuel Forbes for their help with 3D printing and Jason Welsby for his assistance with electronics. N.L. was supported, in part, by a Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award on “A biomimetic forebrain for robot touch” (RL-2016-039), and N.L. and M.E.G. were supported, in part, by an EPSRC grant on Tactile Super-resolution Sensing (EP/M02993X/1). L.C. was supported by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Autonomous and Robotic Systems (FARSCOPE).


  • dexterous manipulation
  • soft sensors
  • tactile sensors


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