Tokyo Researchers Designing Robot Skin

Takayasu Sakurai, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science and his team has developed artificial skin for robots. Many believe that robots will need to look more human in order to be accepted, particularly if they work in households or care facilities or play an emotional role such as companion.  However, robots shouldn’t look too human.  There’s a ‘creep’ factor if a robot looks too real.

The robot skin is made up of several layers, including a plastic film, a rubbery material, and a thin metallic layer. The skin is flexible and has 1,000 embedded organic transistors, electronic parts that can sense pressure.  Expects the skin to be used in products in five to 10 years. By then, a square foot of it could cost about $10, and it may include the ability to sense temperature.

Researchers are also working on flexible spines that allow prone robots to roll over or to sit and stand up easily.

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