Terrifyingly Amazing: Scientists Develop ‘Living Skin’ for Robots

Detroit: Become Human, Quantic Dream’s game that delves into the lives of humanoid androids, is becoming more of a reality. Researchers have made strides in providing real “skin” for robots, as reported in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.

For years, making robots more human-like has been a goal for many companies, particularly to ease their integration into homes. However, these robots are typically covered in plastic or metal. Now, researchers from the universities of Tokyo and Harvard have unveiled a prototype of cellular skin grown in the lab, making robots more realistic.

The result, showcased in a video, is both striking and terrifying. This skin allows for new emotional expressions on a robot’s face through the use of “actuators” that can create movements like smiles, mimicking human muscles.

While mass production is still far off, this lab-developed “living skin” demonstrates the possibility of creating a surface that closely resembles human skin. This is particularly notable for expressions, as the skin can display a “smile” convincingly, as shown in the video.

A significant feature of this lab-grown skin is its ability to regenerate. This self-healing skin can repair itself through cell proliferation without needing any external triggers, unlike other self-healing materials that require heat or pressure.

The texture of the skin is also malleable enough to wrap uniformly around 3D structures such as fingers, the nose, and the mouth while maintaining a good hold. No additional mechanisms are needed to attach it to the underlying plastic or metal layers.

To ensure the skin stays attached, researchers developed a system of skin ligaments made from collagen and elastin. This allows the skin to be pulled—up to a point—without damaging its overall structure.

Creating an effective skin equivalent requires more than just friction; it necessitates the use of anchors. Once the gel is placed on the structure, it is perforated for attachment. These perforations are then filled with collagen, which aids in regeneration and provides strong adhesion.

This breakthrough opens up possibilities for long-term applications, such as medical uses in skin aging and cosmetic surgery, making the future of robotics even more intertwined with human-like attributes.

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