STATES CHRONICLE – Artificial Intelligence is being developed to be as similar to humans as possible. Many researchers build robots that resemble people at least a bit, in the way that they have arms, legs or eyes. So why wouldn’t they have skin as well?
Scientists have developed a special kind of artificial skin particularly made for robots. What makes it so special is the fact that although it is an electronic piece, it is extremely flexible and stretches under pressure.
Being under pressure also makes the skin glow brighter. The artificial skin was developed by a team of researchers from Cornell University. They say the skin could be compared more to rubber band or a balloon rather than human skin.
There are others who believe the new artificial skin resembles octopus skin. An octopus beak can move and stretch. The team wanted to create a balloon that could bend under pressure, instead of pop. They used unyielding carbon fiber on the bottom, letting the top free so that the skin could respond to pressure.
They made a three-chamber robot out of the material and put the new artificial skin layers on top. The chambers expand, and the robot moves with a wiggle. Although similar “skins” have been developed before, they only worked by touching a computer and responding to electro-stimuli. This skin, however, has embedded electronics, which is a first, considering that the devices usually break when they are stretched or molded.
What makes stretching electronics possible is the HLEC, a hyperelastic light-emitting capacitor. The system can both sense pressure and react to it, as well as emit light. This is why you could say that it is similar to octopus skin.
The glow results from the electric field embedded in the skin, and it can be “personalized” with different colors, depending on what metal powders the researchers are using in creating it. As the robot moves, its skin glows more brightly.
Researchers believe that being able to personalize a robot by changing its skin color could have a positive impact on the human-robot interaction.
They are also thinking of using the new “skin” in replacing car touch-screen interfaces that require the driver to pay attention somewhere else than on the road, with light-emitting “buttons”. Besides, it could also revolutionize tech-wear, and we could have smartwatches attached to our skin, barely visible.
Image source: techtimes.com