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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thin skin will help robots 'feel'


Japanese researchers have developed a flexible artificial skin that could give robots a humanlike sense of touch.

The team manufactured a type of "skin" capable of sensing pressure and another capable of sensing temperature.

These are supple enough to wrap around robot fingers and relatively cheap to make, the researchers have claimed.

The University of Tokyo team describe their work in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers explain how pressure-sensing and temperature-sensing networks can be laminated together, forming an artificial skin that can detect both properties simultaneously.

Takao Someya, lead author on the latest research, previously developed a form of artificial skin capable of sensing pressure.

But the ability to sense temperature as well allows the scientists to more closely imitate the functions of human skin.

Someya and his colleagues used electronic circuits as pressure sensors and semiconductors as temperature sensors. They embedded these sensors in a thin plastic film to create a net-like matrix.



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