Scientists have taken a step further in creating super-realistic robots by attempting to create real-life human skin that is water-repellent and can self-heal when damaged.
Scientists are doing their best to make robots look like humans as much as they possibly can so they are relatable, which is significantly essential when they are used in the healthcare and service industries.
Researchers believe living skin is the solution to give robots a look, feel and touch of being alive.
The researchers submerged a robotic finger into collagen and human dermal fibroblasts to create the skin. These two main components make up the skin’s connective tissues.
Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said: “The finger looks slightly ‘sweaty’ straight out of the culture medium.”
“Since the finger is driven by an electric motor, it is also interesting to hear the clicking sounds of the motor in harmony with a finger that looks just like a real one.”
Though current silicone skin made for robots can imitate a human appearance, it does not have more nuanced details, such as wrinkles. It cannot perform like human skin, such as self-regeneration.
One of the challenges with creating living skin sheets to cover robots is fitting them to moving objects with uneven surfaces.
Prof Takeuchi said, “With that method, you have to have the hands of a skilled artisan who can cut and tailor the skin sheets.”
“To efficiently cover surfaces with skin cells, we established a tissue molding method to directly mold skin tissue around the robot, which resulted in a seamless skin coverage on a robotic finger,” he added.
According to Professor Takeuchi, the success of this project lies in the natural shrinking tendency of this collagen and fibroblast mixture.
This layer also provided a uniform foundation for the next coat of human cells to stick to.
These cells make up 90% of the outermost layer of skin, giving the robot a skin-like texture and moisture-retaining barrier properties.