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Scientists Make Artificial Skin for Robots

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Comparing actual skin and robotic skin.

Robotics researchers all over the world are looking into how to give robots tactile sensation.

Credit: Jovo Marjanovic/EyeEm/Getty Images

Scientists worldwide are developing robotic skin to imbue machines with tactile perception, and even allow them to feel pain in some cases.

In 2019, researchers at Germany's Technical University of Munich unveiled artificial skin composed of hexagon-shaped silicone cells that can sense contact, acceleration, proximity, and temperature.

The University of Maryland's John Yiannis Aloimonos said artificial skin affords robots a more detailed sense of their environment, and "makes them safer when operating near people and gives them the ability to anticipate and actively avoid accidents." \

Researchers believe skin is vital because robots must discern nonverbal communication between humans, which also could be integrated with other robotic senses like vision or hearing.

Technical challenges include how much skin to fabricate and interconnect, which is compounded by high production costs; some scientists think this will prompt designers to only add skin to areas required for specific tasks.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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