Japan Scientists Make Smiling Robot With ‘Living’ Skin

Japanese scientists employed human cells to create an artificial skin that can be mounted to robotic surfaces to produce a lifelike — if scary — smile.

The University of Tokyo researchers released their findings this week, along with a video of the gooey-looking pink material stretched into an unpleasant grin.

According to their study published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, they employed a “skin-forming cell-laden gel” to produce a “robot covered with living skin”.

The biohybrid robot experts think that the technology will one day play a part in the development of androids with human-like features and skills.

“We also hope this will help shed better light on wrinkle formations and the physiology of facial expressions,” and help to develop transplant materials and cosmetics, the team led by professor Shoji Takeuchi said.

The novel material could mark a break from traditional humanoid robots with realistic-looking skin, which is typically made of silicone rubber and cannot sweat or heal itself.

The scientists’ goal is to “endow robots with the self-healing capabilities inherent in biological skin,” but they aren’t quite there yet.

In prior research, they grafted collagen into a cut in lab-grown skin covering a robotic finger to show how it may be mended.

However, they stated that executing similar repair tests on their smiling robotic skin “is a future challenge”.

To achieve a “natural smile” that glides freely, they gelatinized the skin-like tissue and attached it into the robot’s holes, a technique inspired by real human skin ligaments.

Leave a Reply