Robots akin to us: researchers create “real” skin for robots


While today, robots are quite capable, what gives away that they are machines is their appearance. Even though sometimes they are shaped like humans, we can easily see that they’re made from inorganic materials.

This might not last long, as Japanese robotics researchers have found a way to create human-looking skin for robots.

For a while, scientists have worked on creating more realistic-looking faux skin. Latex is one of the materials used for this. However, such material would make skin droop from a robot’s face, ultimately creating a disturbing view.

A group of Japanese researchers recently attempted to create life-like skin for robots by mixing cultured cells and silicone. They shared their findings on Cell Reports Physical Science, providing a glimpse into what a robotic future could look like and how some groups of people could benefit from it.

What makes this new type of skin special is that it looks like natural human skin and has the ability to repair itself. This means that if a robot gets a scratch, similar to what people sometimes get, the skin can heal itself.

There’s an ongoing debate about whether we should make robots in our image and whether, in the future, such innovations will turn their backs on us.

So, if you’re already looking at this situation with caution and you’re thinking, “why do we need robots with human-like skin?” Well, your question is just about to be answered.

Skin is known to work as a protective layer. Robots with skin would be protected from being worn or damaged too fast. According to researchers, human-like skin would decrease the need to repair robots manually.

In one of their experiments, researchers showed how such skin changes when imitating a human smile. Such and similar experiments can also pave the way for understanding the correlation between a person’s facial muscles and emotions to help treat various facial injuries or disorders.