Enhanced Sensory Perception via Advanced Synthetic Skins

Navy STTR 22.A - Topic N22A-T018
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N22A-T018 TITLE: Enhanced Sensory Perception via Advanced Synthetic Skins

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML);Autonomy;Microelectronics

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics;Materials / Processes;Sensors

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative, wide-area synthetic skin that utilizes advances in machine perception to enhance the sensory capabilities of the device or system to which the skin is applied and for enhanced investigative capabilities in low-visibility, undersea environments.

DESCRIPTION: A key characteristic of a high-performing synthetic sensory skin is the ability to remain fully operational when stretched, deformed, or used in undersea operations conducted in harsh environments. There are technical risks associated with the implementation of synthetic skins with human-like sensory capability such as manufacturability, resiliency, sensors, and data processing. This STTR topic seeks to develop innovative, wide-area, synthetic sensory skin technologies that address these risks. Solutions should provide high-functioning synthetic sensory skin that augments operations in low-access, low-visibility environments as well as in missions requiring teleoperations of critical systems.

PHASE I: Conduct a proof-of-concept study, culminating in a design package and a demonstrable simulation and/or laboratory experiment, that proves the feasibility of achieving the desired synthetic sensory skin requirements. Produce a detailed report summarizing simulation and/or testing results, a presentation of the initial design, and plans for prototyping the synthetic skin in Phase II.

PHASE II: Finalize design details through Preliminary and Critical Design Reviews, provide a manufacturability analysis, and develop and demonstrate the prototype synthetic skin in a relevant environment.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to a program of record for operational use. Potential medical applications include telemedicine, where it could enable a medical clinician to replicate the physical contact they have when they evaluate a patient in person, and as a covering for prosthetic limbs. Another commercial application includes using it to enable robots to work more safely around humans.


  1. Majidi, C. "Soft Robotics: A Perspective—Current Trends and Prospects for the Future." Soft Robotics, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2013. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/soro.2013.0001.
  2. Technical University of Munich (TUM). "Biologically-Inspired Skin Improves Robots' Sensory Abilities." Science Daily, October 10, 2019. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191010125623.htm.
  3. Dahiya, R.; Manjakkal, I.; Burdet, E. and Hayward, V. "Large-Area Soft e-Skin: The Challenges Beyond Sensor Designs." Proceedings of the IEEE. Vol. 107, No. 10, October 2019. https://www.cim.mcgill.ca/~haptic/pub/RD-ET-AL-PIEEE-19.pdf.

KEYWORDS: artificial intelligence; perception; underwater; robotics; synthetic skin; bio-inspired; materials; microelectronics; sensors


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.A STTR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.A STTR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).

Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (December 1, 2021 thru January 11, 2022) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on January 12, 2022 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.

SITIS Q&A System: After the pre-release period, proposers may submit written questions through SITIS (SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System) at www.dodsbirsttr.mil/topics-app/, login and follow instructions. In SITIS, the questioner and respondent remain anonymous but all questions and answers are posted for general viewing.

Topics Search Engine: Visit the DoD Topic Search Tool at www.dodsbirsttr.mil/topics-app/ to find topics by keyword across all DoD Components participating in this BAA.

Help: If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk via email at [email protected]

[ Return ]