Robot Skin Detects Your Gentle Caress

Robots working with people need to be able to respond to the slightest touch, so they can react as you would expect a humanoid to react. Two new artificial skins for robots have recently been developed to make this a reality.

( Elastic polymer PDMS skin senses light objects)

Chemist Zhenan Bao at Stanford University, California, and her colleagues used the elastic polymer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)1. Bao took a piece of PDMS measuring six centimetres square with pyramid-shaped chunks cut out of it at regular intervals. When the PDMS is squashed, the pyramid-shaped holes that were previously filled with air become filled with PDMS, changing the device's capacitance, or its ability to hold an electric charge.

To make it easier to detect the changes in capacitance, Bao stuck the PDMS capacitor onto an organic transistor, which can read out the differences as a change in current. The team used a grid of transistors to track pressure changes at different points across the material.

The PDMS-based skin is sensitive to the lightest of touches: Bao tested her device by placing a bluebottle fly and a butterfly on it, both of which were clearly 'felt'.

( The use of pressure-sensitive rubber makes this artifical skin flexible. )

Ali Javey at the University of California, Berkeley used semiconductor nanowires pulled into the shape of a grid using a technique called contact printing. The grid was then laid out on a flexible pressure-sensitive rubber a material that changes its electrical resistance under pressure2.

In the 7-centimetre-square grid, the criss-crossing nanowires act as transistors. Each transistor is like a pixel, and the pressure-induced current change at each individual position can be read out. And because it's made mainly of rubber, the device is bendy. "Because we're using very small inorganic semiconductors, the devices are very flexible," explains Javey. He has bent the sensor into a U-shape with each arm of the 'U' separated by a gap of just 5 millimetres and it still works.

Update 8-Dec-2011: In Roger Zelazny's Hugo award-winning 1966 novel This Immortal gives sf fans a glimpse of this idea. A wrestling robot uses special skin described as a radar mesentery to sense its opponent. End update.

For more exciting robot skin stories, gently caress these links:

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/13/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...' - Roger Zelazny, 1966.

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

Tiny Rubbery Robot To Take 'Fantastic Voyage'
I think that I will wait for other volunteers for this one.

Disney Vyloo Robots With Personality
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities...' - Douglas Adams, 1979.



Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

Cool Tinsley Lunar Unicycle Update
Great update of a timeless classic.

NASA's 'Armstrong' Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment
'Exact same articulation as your shoulder joint, and it holds your muscles out of the way...'

Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.