Nav: Home

Electronic 'hairy skin' could give robots a more human sense of touch (video)

December 14, 2016

Electronic-skin prototypes are stretchy, thin films that can sense temperature, pressure and even monitor blood oxygen or alcohol levels. But most of these devices are missing a key feature of real skin that allows us to feel a wider range of conditions: hair. Now researchers have combined hair-like wires with electronic skin to make a more versatile sensor for robots, prosthetics and other applications. Their report appears in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Robots and prosthetics are becoming ever more human-like, but the electronic skins designed to enhance their usefulness don't yet have the full range of tactile senses that we have. For example, they cannot "feel" a light breeze. But fine hair, which covers 95 percent of the human body, helps us feel the slightest wind. To capture that sensation, some researchers have developed separate sensors that mimic this fine hair by sensing and detecting air flow. However, that's about all these particular devices can do. Rongguo Wang, Lifeng Hao and colleagues wanted to expand on this, combining the features of electronic skin and hair in a single device.

The researchers created an array of artificial hairs with glass-coated, cobalt-based microwires and embedded the ends of the wires in a silicon-rubber "skin." The "hairy skin" could repeatedly detect a range of pressures, including the landing of a fly, a light wind and a 10-pound weight. And when used with a two-finger robot gripping a plastic block, the new sensor could "feel" slip and friction forces.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

See how the sensor works in this Headline Science video.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Robots Articles:

Robots popular with older adults
A new study by psychologists from the University of Jena (Germany) does not confirm that robot skepticism among elder people is often suspected in science.
Showing robots how to do your chores
By observing humans, robots learn to perform complex tasks, such as setting a table.
Designing better nursing care with robots
Robots are becoming an increasingly important part of human care, according to researchers based in Japan.
Darn you, R2! When can we blame robots?
A recent study finds that people are likely to blame robots for workplace accidents, but only if they believe the robots are autonomous.
Robots need a new philosophy to get a grip
Robots need to know the reason why they are doing a job if they are to effectively and safely work alongside people in the near future.
How can robots land like birds?
Birds can perch on a wide variety of surfaces, thick or thin, rough or slick.
Soft robots for all
Each year, soft robots gain new abilities. They can jump, squirm, and grip.
The robots that dementia caregivers want: robots for joy, robots for sorrow
A team of scientists spent six months co-designing robots with informal caregivers for people with dementia, such as family members.
Faster robots demoralize co-workers
A Cornell University-led team has found that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort -- and they tend to dislike the robots.
Increasing skepticism against robots
In Europe, people are more reserved regarding robots than they were five years ago.
More Robots News and Robots Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.