ModLab UPenn the modular robotics laboratory at the university of pennsylvania


The PaintPot manufacturing process is a new way to create low-cost, low-profile, highly customizable potentiometers for position sensing in robotic applications. It uses widely accessible materials, requires no special expertise, and creates custom potentiometers in a variety of shapes and sizes, including curved surfaces.PaintPots offer accuracy and precision performance comparable with commercial (non-customizable) options through a calibration process that trades small computation for cost.

The conference paper includes detailed PaintPot manufacturing and calibration processes, and experiments that validate the accuracy, precision, and lifetime performance of PaintPots, comparable to commercial sensors. We also provide a case-study application in the SMORES-EP modular robot, and show how the PaintPot process can be used to create resistive surfaces capable of sensing position in 2D on planes and spheres.

  • [PDF] T. Tosun, D. Edgar, C. Liu, Tsabedze Thulani, and M. Yim, “Paintpots: low cost, accurate, highly customizable potentiometers for position sensing,” in Ieee international conference on robotics and automation, 2017.
    title = {PaintPots: Low Cost, Accurate, Highly Customizable Potentiometers for Position Sensing},
    author = {Tosun, Tarik and Edgar, Daniel and Liu, Chao and Tsabedze, Thulani, and Yim, Mark},
    booktitle = {IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation},
    year = 2017
  • C. Liu, T. Tosun, and M. Yim, “A low-cost, highly customizable solution for position estimation in modular robots,” Journal of mechanisms and robotics (accepted), 2020.
    author = {Chao {Liu} and Tarik {Tosun} and Mark {Yim}},
    title = {A Low-Cost, Highly Customizable Solution for
    Position Estimation in Modular Robots},
    journal = {Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics (Accepted)},
    year = 2020,

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