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Terminator soon a reality with this first “living” robot skin?

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Skin that resembles human skin, and moreover alive, is what scientists at the University of Tokyo have created. In a study published in the journal it matters, they feature a robotic finger covered in organic skin, equipped with functions water repellent and healing. An advance that may seem minor but which brings us considerably closer real humanoids ! “I think living skin is the ultimate solution to making robots look and feel like living creatures, because it’s exactly the same Material that covers the body of animals “said Shoji Takeuchi, first author of the study.

Genuine components of human skin

To achieve this structurethe researchers used an assembly of living cells made in vitro and of collagen. A blend inspired by installations biologics used in medicine to treat severe wounds and burns. First they dipped the robotic finger into a mixture of fibroblasts human skin and collagen to reproduce the equivalent of dermisso I covered it all with keratinocytes human epidermis for create an epidermis.

The whole was then reduced during the solidificationsurrounding the finger and forming folds similar to those of real leather. “The advantage of our method of covering 3D objects with the equivalent of skin is the use of tissue shrinkage during culture, which allows conformal coverage of 3D objects, especially those with curved and irregular surfaces.” the researchers write.

To check the outfit and theelasticity of the skin, the team then had several movements to robotic fingerand has more “Evaluated the barrier function of fabricated skin equivalents in vitro with electrical measurements and tests of Water retention “, as the researchers write. And everything went really well! ‘The finger to the’air slightly “wet” directly from the growing mediumenthusiastic S.Takeuchi. Since the finger is powered by an electric motor, it is also interesting to hear the clicks of the motor in harmony with a finger that feels real. “

Healing properties

In addition to its aesthetic and mechanical characteristics, the brand new skin created has properties ofself-healing. The researchers put on a collagen bandage after having ” bad ” the robotic finger: the bandage gradually fused into the skin and thus rebuilt it! “The wound was repaired from the activity of skin fibroblasts after the collagen sheet was applied to the wound site. These results show the applicability of robots coated with living materials to biological functions and offer a new perspective on robotic materials. “

But this is only the beginning, as the study concludes: developed skin remains weaker than natural skin and requires supply of nutrients : for the future, the team plans to add sensory neuronsof the follicles hairy, nails And sweat glands. “We are surprised by the quality of the fabric cutaneous conforms to the surface of the robotTakeuchi says. But this work is only the first step towards creating robots covered in living skin. “

The formed skin has withstood all tests! © Materia, Kawai e para.

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