Whiskers provide a straightforward way for a robot to navigate through many types of environment. They are a simple sensor for working in the dark, for example.
Each whisker is plugged directly into a capacitor microphone at the front of the robot. This capacitor can detect vibrations with acute sensitivity through a process that mimicks the way a real mouse uses its whiskers to sense, via the nerves in its nose. AMouse can also sense an obstacle, acceleration and ground vibrations using its whiskers.
AMouse, uses real mouse whiskers, but artificial whiskers will be developed eventually to explore confined surroundings and scuttle though pipes to perform repair work.
Artificial whiskers as sensitive as those of a real rodent would enable the bot to distinguish different textures and perhaps sense disturbances in air flow caused by sudden movement.
From New Scientist.