We present the design, fabrication process, and characterization of a multimodal tactile sensor made of polymer materials and metal thin film sensors. The multimodal sensor can detect the hardness, thermal conductivity, temperature, and surface contour of a contact object for comprehensive evaluation of contact objects and events. Polymer materials reduce the cost and the fabrication complexity for the sensor skin, while increasing mechanical flexibility and robustness. Experimental tests show the skin is able to differentiate between objects using measured properties. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.