FP ExplainersJun 20, 2022 13:28:37 IST
If you ever thought that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator can never be a real possibility, or that it was at least a thousand years into the future, think again, for a Japanese team of scientists has developed “real” human-like living skin for robots, that heals itself.
Creating artificial humans or humanoids has been a goal of many for centuries. There have been instances of this practice even in Greek mythology. But we’ve never been closer to achieving a realistic human-like robot than we do right now.
A team of Japanese scientists at the University of Tokyo have actually developed, human living skin from human skin cells. This new material feels, functions and behaves just like normal skin on a human being. The lab-made skin successfully generated the look and touch of real human skin and was found to repel water and repair itself when injured with minor wounds and abrasions.
This new “living” skin for robots could push progress towards humanoid robotics even further. That’s because looking “real” is one of the top priorities that engineers and researchers have had for humanoid robots. Imagine if Elon Musk appropriated this tech for the Tesla bot.
Because these robots are being designed to work directly in the healthcare and service industries, they need to look real and human to avoid scaring people. Only this time, it seems that science has outdone itself.
Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo who led the team of scientists, says that the researchers created a new type of tissue moulding method instead of cutting the skin to fit the finger. Then, they submerged the finger into a cylinder filled with a mix of collagen and human dermal fibroblasts which is a form of human skin tissue. Basically, they had to use the two primary components in the skin’s connectivity tissue.
This plan succeeded in making a living skin for the robots because of its natural shrinking tendency. As it dried, the mixture shrank and tightly conformed to the robotic finger and gave it a realistic but somewhat sweaty appearance.
Takeuchi believes that living skin is the “ultimate solution” to make robots look and feel like living creatures. And it seems researchers are getting close to making actual living skin for robots. The team is contemplating taking their new development to some of the eminent Japanese robotics companies in the world.