Industrial applications of haptic feedback systems that add dexterity to telemanipulators have been limited due to their complexity, low reliability, and high cost. A promising and attractive alternative technology for industry is vibrotactile feedback. These systems are simple and can be added at low cost to existing telerobotic systems to provide robust contact information. We have developed a single channel prototype vibrotactile sensor and display system for a high capacity deep sea remote manipulator, the Schilling Robotic Systems TITAN-II. The vibration sensor consists of a pair of steel plates machined to fit inside the gripper jaws. Embedded between the plates are piezoelectric film strips molded into a rugged silicone rubber layer. Impact and frequency response tests indicate the sensor is durable to the extreme loading and sensitive to a large range of vibration frequencies of the industrial setting. Tests of the prototype system on the TITAN-II again proved the sensor to be rugged and durable while also being sensitive. In informal tests, operators found the system enhanced operation of the robot.

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