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Rocha R. , Almeida A., Tavakoli M.

2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)


Sensors that detect human presence received an increasing attention due to the recent advances in smart homes, collaborative fabrication cells, and human robot interaction. These sensors can be used in collaborative robot cells and mobile robots, in order to increase the robot awareness about the presence of humans, in order to increase safety during their operation. Among proximity detection systems, capacitive sensors are interesting, since they are low cost and simple human proximity detectors, however their detection range is limited. In this article, we show that the proximity detection range of a capacitive sensor can be enhanced, when the sensor is placed near a water container. In addition, the signal can pass trough several adjacent water containers, even if they are separated by a few centimeters. This phenomenon has an important implication in establishing low cost sensor networks. For instance, a limited number of active capacitive sensor nodes can be linked with several simple passive nodes, i.e. water containers, to detect human or animal proximity in a large area such as a farm, a factory or home. Analysis on the change of the maximum proximity range with sensor dimension, container size and liquid filler was performed in order to study this effect. Examples of application are also demonstrated.