Not only has the texture like robot finger skin, but also has waterproof and self-healing functions.
First author Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, Japan, said: “The finger looks a bit ‘sweat’ when viewed straight out of the culture medium. “Since the finger is controlled by an electric motor, it is also interesting to hear the click of the motor in harmony with a lifelike finger.”
Looking “real” like a human is one of the top priorities for humanoid robots that often interact with humans in the service and healthcare industries.
A human-like appearance can improve communication 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.
Efforts to fabricate living skins to cover robots have also had limited success, as it is difficult to make them suitable for dynamic objects with uneven surfaces.
“With that method, you have to have the hands of a skilled craftsman who can cut and sew leather panels,” says Takeuchi. “To effectively cover surfaces with skin cells, we established a tissue molding method that directly molds the skin tissue around the robot, resulting in a seamless overlay of skin on a single finger. robots.”
To fabricate the skin, the team first dipped a robotic finger into a cylinder filled with a solution of human collagen and dermal fibroblasts, the two main components that make up the skin’s connective tissues.
Takeuchi says the success of the study lies in the natural tendency of this mixture of collagen and fibroblasts to contract, which shrinks and sticks to the finger. Like a primer, this layer provides a uniform base for the next layer of cells — human epidermal keratinocytes — to adhere to. These cells make up 90% of the skin’s outermost layer, giving the robot its skin-like texture and moisture barrier properties.
The handmade leather has enough strength and elasticity to withstand the flexible movements as the robot finger rolls and stretches.
The outer layer thick enough to be lifted with tweezers and repel water, offering many advantages in performing specific tasks such as handling small charged polystyrene foam, a material commonly used in packaging.
When injured, Crafted skin can even self-heal like a human’ with the help of collagen bandagesgradually forms into the skin and withstands repetitive joint movements.
“We were surprised by how well the skin tissue fits the surface of the robot,” Takeuchi said. “But this work is only the first step towards creating robots covered in raw skin.” Developed skin is much weaker than natural skin and cannot last long without a constant supply of nutrients and waste removal. Next, Takeuchi and his team plan to tackle those problems and incorporate more complex functional structures inside the skin, such as sensory neurons, hair follicles, nails, and sweat glands. foul. “I think the hide is the optimal solution to give the robot the look and feel of living things because it’s exactly like the material that covers an animal’s body,” Takeuchi said.