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Scientists Create Skin to Cover a Robot

Five scientists from the Department of Mechano-Informatics at the University of Tokyo created living skin to cover a robotic finger.

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Photo: Cell.com

LatinAmerican Post | Sergio Marentes

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Leer en español: Científicos crean piel para cubrir un robot

Japanese scientists Michio Kawai, Minhao Nie, Haruka Oda, Yuya Morimoto, and Shoji Takeuchi, members of the Department of Mechano-Informatics at the University of Tokyo, have managed to create the closest material to living human skin. This material, created from a collagen solution, not only resembles our skin in its appearance, but also allows it to have amazing functions, such as water repellency and, perhaps best of all, self-healing. The experiment was carried out on a three-jointed robotic finger, covered with a material that is perfect for three-dimensional objects due to its elastic similarities to human skin.

The Materials

Science, always, in its attempt to get closer to nature, to life, if you will, has managed to make everything that imitates it looks more and more like it. As for the materials with which, throughout the history of robotics, robots have been covered, they have gone from the rigid and the mechanical to the soft and the flexible, to achieve a better appearance and, with this, a more human functionality. But, as it happens with blood, or any biological element until today it has been impossible to completely create them as we know them. However, according to the scientists, the challenge now is to arrive at a biohybrid material to, as in this case, be able to create robots covered with tissue engineering skin. Also looking for that these, as happens with our skin, when we are injured, can recover its appearance if necessary.

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Robotic Individuals

Humanoids, which are robots created with the most advanced human shapes and features ever, are characterized by their ability to interact with humans. Therefore, with this achievement of replicating the aspects and functions of the skin of human beings, humanoids increase their potential to establish interactions with us until they reach perhaps more harmonic ones and, within what the context allows, more natural.

Robot Skin Uses

Science has created multiple elements that help us recover both the functionality and the appearance of our skin. However, with this development, it is expected that it will be possible to treat, for example, burns of different types. Because, of this work, scientists managed to repair wounds of a dermis equivalent that covers a robotic finger. With the results obtained, this research shows the potential of using the skin equivalent as a similar covering material to the human and self-healing for robots, in principle, but focused on being the solution to all those human beings who have lost part of theirs or need some treatment for their regeneration.