Scientists create living human skin for humanoid robots

Living human skin created for robots by Japanese scientists has not only given a robotic finger a skin-like texture but also water-repellency and self-healing functions.

“The finger looks slightly ‘sweaty’ as soon as it comes out of the culture medium,” explained first author Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, Japan, who has published the breakthrough in the journal “Matter.” Since the finger is powered by an electric motor, it’s also interesting to hear the clicks of the motor in harmony with a real-looking finger. 6 tips for your product packaging to sell

Looking “real” like a human is a top priority for humanoid robots, which are often tasked with interacting with humans in the healthcare and service industries because an appearance similar to the human can improve the effectiveness of communication and evoke sympathy.

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While the silicone skin currently being made for robots can mimic the human appearance, it falls short when it comes to delicate textures like wrinkles and lacks skin-specific functions. Attempts to make sheets of living skin to cover robots have also met with limited success, as they are difficult to adapt to dynamic objects with uneven surfaces.

“With that method, you have to have the hands of a skilled craftsman who can cut and fit the skin sheets,” Takeuchi explains. “To effectively cover the surfaces with skin cells, we established a tissue molding method to mold directly the skin tissue around the robot, resulting in seamless skin coverage on a robotic finger.” What is Natural Stone? How Are Natural Stones Formed?

To make the skin, the team first dipped the robotic finger into a cylinder filled with a solution of collagen and human dermal fibroblasts, the two main components that make up the skin’s connective tissues.

Takeuchi says that the success of the study lies in the natural tendency of this mixture of collagen and fibroblasts to contract, which shrunk and fit the finger.

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Like a primer, this layer provided an even base for the next layer of cells, the human epidermal keratinocytes, to adhere to. These cells make up 90% of the outermost layer of the skin, giving the robot a skin-like texture and barrier properties to retain moisture.

The skin created had enough strength and elasticity to withstand the dynamic movements of the robotic finger as it curved and stretched. The outermost layer was thick enough to be lifted with tweezers and was water repellent, offering several advantages when performing specific tasks such as handling tiny electrostatically charged Styrofoam, a material often used in packaging. Blackhead Removal: What are the Natural Methods to Clear Blackheads?

When injured, the fabricated skin could even self-heal like that of humans with the help of a collagen bandage, which gradually transformed into the skin and endured repeated movement of the joints.

“We are amazed at how well the skin tissue conforms to the robot’s surface,” Takeuchi acknowledges. “But this work is only the first step toward creating robots covered in living skin.”

The developed skin is much weaker than the natural skin and cannot survive long without a constant supply of nutrients and waste removal. So now Takeuchi and his team plan to solve those problems and incorporate more sophisticated functional structures within the skin, such as sensory neurons, hair follicles, nails, and sweat glands. 16 Jobs That Will Be Taken From Us by Technology in 20 Years

“I think living skin is the ultimate solution to give robots the look and feel of living things, as it is the exact same material that covers animal bodies,” Takeuchi said.

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