Tech

Robots “wear living skin” to make them look and feel like humans and foster relationships

ROBOTS of the future could be covered in “living skin” that makes them look and feel human.

So say scientists at the University of Tokyo, who made a “sweaty” robotic finger to demonstrate how human-like skin can cover machines.

Scientists have created a human-like, self-healing skin for robots

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Scientists have created a human-like, self-healing skin for robotsPhoto credit: Shoji Takeuchi
The skin could even support the bonding between robots and humans

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The skin could even support the bonding between robots and humansPhoto credit: Matter/Kawai et al

The scientists explain their “self-healing” robotic skin in a new paper.

They wrote: “The cover materials of humanoid robots have shifted from stiff and heavy materials to soft and pliable materials to better mimic human appearance and function.

“Here we report a biohybrid approach to fabricate robots covered in tissue engineered skin.

“The skin coverage not only results in a human-like appearance, but also enables self-healing capabilities.”

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Skin is mostly made up of collagen, a protein that we also have in our skin.

It could become an alternative to silicone.

Most humanoid robots are currently coated with it.

Scientists coated a robotic finger with the “skin” by dipping the finger in a special collagen solution.

Shoji Takeuchi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo, said, “The finger looks slightly ‘sweaty’ straight from the culture medium.”

He added: “To efficiently cover surfaces with skin cells, we developed a tissue sculpting process to sculpt skin tissue directly around the robot, resulting in seamless skin coverage on a robot finger.”

Takeuchi emphasized that this is only the first step in the process of making robots with human-like skin.

Finally, making machines more human-like could improve relationships between robots and humans.

Right now, humanoid robots can create a feeling called “uncanny valley syndrome.”

Then an object that is very similar to a human, but is not human, arouses the viewer’s discomfort and disgust.

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Takeuchi said, “I think living skin is the ultimate solution to give robots the look and feel of living things because it’s the exact same material that covers animal bodies.”

He hopes his team can add things like sweat glands, hair, nails, and even sensory neurons to the robotic skin to make it even more realistic.

https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5528328/robots-to-wear-living-skin/ Robots “wear living skin” to make them look and feel like humans and foster relationships

Chris Barrese

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