This cute pink blob could lead to realistic robot skin

We may have it someday humanoid robots so real that they have skin that looks and feels, heals and moves just like ours. A group of scientists from the University of Tokyo and Harvard University are investigating how this happens, and the process involves creating some pretty interesting, partly terrifying and partly fascinating experimental machines with skin. in their published article Cell Physics Science Reports (via TechCrunch), the researchers explained that current molding techniques used to create skin equivalents that fit perfectly into 3D structures such as robotic fingers lack a mechanism that “can realign the skin to the underlying subcutaneous layer.” For their research, as a solution to this problem, they used a technique they called “perforation-type anchors” inspired by skin ligaments.

Diagram showing the layers of the skin. Diagram showing the layers of the skin.

University of Tokyo

Simply put, cutaneous ligaments keep our skin attached to the tissue and underlying muscles, so every time we move, it doesn’t loosen and spread out like fabric on a mannequin. The team intends to use its own perforation-type anchors to replace those ties in cars. To demonstrate the method’s effectiveness in attaching synthetic skin to “complexly contoured 3D objects,” the researchers fabricated a skin equivalent on a fake head.

They also created a robotic face covered in the dermis equivalent that can smile. As the machine produces a “gliding motion” to mimic the movement of our face when we smile, the engineered skin deforms to create a smiling expression. While the result may seem creepy to some, this is what we think the sweet pink blob looks like Keep me hydrated after thorough hydration or a very red and shiny Thomas the Tank Engine.

A pink, smiling blob.A pink, smiling blob.

University of Tokyo

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