With the fourth revolution of healthcare, i.e., Healthcare 4.0, collaborative robotics is spilling out from traditional manufacturing and will blend into human living or working environments to deliver care services, especially telehealthcare. Because of the frequent and seamless interaction between robots and care recipients, it poses several challenges that require careful consideration: 1) the ability of the human to collaborate with the robots in a natural manner; and 2) the safety of the human collaborating with the robot. In this regard, we have proposed a proximity sensing solution based on the self-capacitive technology to provide an extended sense of touch for collaborative robots, allowing approach and contact measurement to enhance safe and natural human-robot collaboration. The modular design of our solution enables it to scale up to form a large-area sensing system. The sensing solution is proposed to work in two operation modes: the interaction mode and the safety mode. In the interaction mode, utilizing the ability of the sensor to localize the point of action, gesture command is used for robot manipulation. In the safety mode, the sensor enables the robot to actively avoid obstacles.
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