Scientists Have Crafted Living Skin for Robots

By: | June 22nd, 2022

Researchers developed a robotic finger with living human skin. Image courtesy: Shoji Takeuchi

Scientists are working hard to make humanoid robots look real. They believe it could improve the robot’s communication efficiency and its likability of robotics. By making the robots look more like humans, it would also be easier for the people to interact with them. 

Now, scientists from Japan have brought robots one step closer to human-like robots. Scientists successfully fabricated human-like skin on a robot that not only gave its fingers a skin-like texture but also water-repellent and self-healing functions. This is because it’s made of human skin cells.

Scientists coated a functioning robot finger with a prototype of this lab-grown skin

Professor Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo explained that the finger felt very realistic. He said, “The (new) finger looks slightly ‘sweaty’ straight out of the culture medium,”

“Since the finger is driven by an electric motor, it is also interesting to hear the clicking sounds of the motor in harmony with a finger that looks just like a real one,” 

To craft the skin, the researchers submerged the robotic finger in a special liquid. This special liquid is a solution of components similar to that which makes up our own skin’s tissues. This liquid then shrank and tightly conformed to the finger, which gives the robot a skin-like feel.

“We are surprised by how well the skin tissue conforms to the robot’s surface,” said first author Shoji Takeuchi.

“But this work is just the first step toward creating robots covered with living skin.”

Now researchers are planning to integrate more sophisticated functional structures within the skin, like sensory neurons, hair follicles, and sweat glands.

This research was recently published in the journal Matter.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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