Staying one step ahead in space and on EarthSometimes, our own sensory organs need a little touch

Challenge 18 Solution
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How swiping a touchpad is like flying the Space Station's robotic arm

In orbit, the Station's robotic arm can manipulate big items, like the SpaceX Dragon or Japan's HTV, space vessels that carry tonnes of cargo. To avoid accidentally bashing into the International Space Station itself, tactile sensors on the arm provide pressure feedback to the astronaut operating it inside the Station. On Earth, this same sensor technology is used in diverse settings, from auto airbag systems and pedestrian impact sensors to patient alert systems and touchpad character recognition.

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