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Jun 10, 2022

Scientists craft living human skin for robots

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

From action heroes to villainous assassins, biohybrid robots made of both living and artificial materials have been at the center of many sci-fi fantasies, inspiring today’s robotic innovations. It’s still a long way until human-like robots walk among us in our daily lives, but scientists from Japan are bringing us one step closer by crafting living human skin on robots. The method developed, presented June 9 in the journal Matter, not only gave a robotic finger skin-like texture, but also water-repellent and self-healing functions.

“The finger looks slightly ‘sweaty’ straight out of the culture medium,” says first author Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, Japan. “Since the finger is driven by an , it is also interesting to hear the clicking sounds of the motor in harmony with a finger that looks just like a real one.”

Looking “real” like a human is one of the top priorities for that are often tasked to interact with humans in healthcare and service industries. A human-like appearance can improve communication efficiency and evoke likability. While current silicone skin made for robots can mimic human appearance, it falls short when it comes to delicate textures like wrinkles and lacks skin-specific functions. Attempts at fabricating living skin sheets to cover robots have also had limited success, since it’s challenging to conform them to dynamic objects with uneven surfaces.

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