Flexible Artifical Skin to give Robots Human-like Sense of Touch and Feel

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Monday, August 15, 2005

Researchers from University of Tokyo, Japan have developed a flexible artificial skin that could give robots a humanlike sense of touch.

The team manufactured a type of “skin” capable of sensing pressure and another capable of sensing temperature. The pressure-sensing and temperature-sensing networks can be laminated together, forming an artificial skin that can detect both properties simultaneously. Electronic circuits are used as pressure sensors and semiconductors as temperature sensors. These sensors are embedded in a thin plastic film to create networks of sensors.

These are supple enough to wrap around robot fingers and relatively cheap to make, the researchers have claimed.

The transistors used in the circuits and the semiconductors both use “organic” materials based on chains of carbon atoms which makes them mechanically flexible and relatively inexpensive to fabricate.

“Both of those characteristics sound compelling. The material sounds like it could have lots of functions,” Dr Douglas Weibel, of the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University told the BBC News website.

“The materials they’re using may not be completely novel but the integration appears to be something new.”

The University of Tokyo scientists say their breakthrough has the potential to improve how robots will function in the real world.

“It will be possible in the near future to make an electronic skin that has functions that human skin lacks,” the researchers write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Future artificial skins could incorporate sensors not only for pressure and temperature, but also for light, humidity, strain or sound, they add.

I can see potential uses for this skins in future to augment or substitute for human skins too.

Source: BBC


April 4, 2007: 8:33 pm

can you have a video to it, please.

October 18, 2005: 11:56 pm

Artificial skin sounds awesome, but I doubt it could ever beat the real thing. As an expert on our sense of touch, it is much more pervasive than you imagine. Our greater touch system is called the haptic system and allows us to feel the depth, direction, and duration of touch, as well as temperature, and position and movement in space. How we are touched as children affects our behaviors and relationships for life. Check out my website: http://www.touch-ability.com

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