Scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a human-skin-like material that will be used to coat human-like robots to give them a more realistic appearance, according to an article published Thursday in the academic journal Matter.
The scientists were responsible for generating delicate skin tissue for the robots, which have the ability to heal themselves from injuries, in addition to generating a true sense of touch.
The prototype was created from a living skin model consisting of cells and an extracellular matrix, as a human-like, self-healing covering material for robots. This skin is achieved by placing a covering of collagen on the wound which helps to regenerate the affected part.
Why are they doing this for
The goal of the researchers, who work in this sector of tissue engineering, is to make robots appear more human. In his view, a more humane appearance would make humans more loving towards people and easier for people to relate to when they started working in the service and health sectors.
How was the new skin developed for robots
To make the skin, the team first dipped a robotic finger into a cylinder filled with a solution of human dermal collagen and fibroblasts, the two main components that make up the connective tissues of the skin.
This blend of collagen and fibroblasts contracted and set on the finger like a raw material. This layer provided a uniform base that made it easier for the next layer of cells, the keratinocytes of the human epidermis, to adhere.
These cells make up 90% of the outer layer of the skin, giving the robot a similar feel to real skin.
In addition, the resulting skin was strong and flexible enough to support the dynamic movements of the robotic finger as it flexed and stretched, and the outer layer was thick enough to lift with tweezers and repel water.
Even the developed skin was able to heal itself, like humans, with the help of a collagen bandage, which gradually turned into skin and withstood the frequent movements of the joints.