Researchers Engineer Lifelike Skin for Humanoid Robots

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Researchers, led by Professor Shoji Takeuchi from the University of Tokyo, have developed a breakthrough method to attach engineered skin tissue to the complex surfaces of humanoid robots. This innovative technique offers significant benefits, including increased mobility, self-healing abilities, embedded sensing capabilities, and a more lifelike appearance, reports Utokyo.

The Innovation:

  • Inspired by Human Ligaments: The team created special perforations in a robot’s face, allowing a layer of skin to adhere more effectively.
  • Superior Adhesion: By mimicking human skin-ligament structures and using V-shaped perforations, the engineered skin can move seamlessly with the robot’s mechanical parts without tearing.
  • Advanced Adhesion Techniques: Using a special collagen gel and a plastic adhesion technique called plasma treatment, the skin binds to even the most complex shapes.

Potential Applications:

  • Cosmetics Industry: The engineered skin could revolutionize cosmetic testing and product development.
  • Medical Training: The technology could help train plastic surgeons by providing lifelike models for practice.
  • Self-Healing and Sensing: The biological skin can self-heal and potentially integrate nerves and other sensory organs, enhancing robots’ environmental awareness and interactive capabilities.

About Takeuchi’s Lab: The Biohybrid Systems Laboratory, led by Takeuchi, has a history of pioneering projects, including mini-robots powered by biological muscles, 3D-printed lab-grown meat, and self-healing engineered skin. This latest development represents a significant step forward in biohybrid robotics.

Future Prospects:

  • Medical Research: The technique could lead to the developing of organ-on-a-chip and face-on-a-chip technologies, aiding in research on skin aging, cosmetics, and surgical procedures.
  • Interactive Robotics: Embedding sensors within the skin could enhance robots’ ability to interact with their environment and improve their functionality in various applications.

This breakthrough advances the capabilities of humanoid robots and opens up new avenues for research and application in medical and technological fields.

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Source: UTokyo