The fear of real-life Terminators and “cybernetic organisms” creeps a little closer with a new report from the University of Tokyo that reveals its roboticists have successfully built an articulated robot finger covered in living human skin. Thoroughly detailed in a recently published paper titled “Living Skin on a Robot” in the scientific journal Matter, human skin cells were used to create the lab-grown skin, a substance that manages to mimic its authentic counterpart rather closely with features that include water resistance and the ability to self heal. The artificial skin is also seemingly strong enough to handle a robotic finger’s repeated movements, such as stretching and contracting. Researchers are now hoping to add “nerves” and sensors to make them even closer to humans.
“I think living skin is the ultimate solution to give robots the look and touch of living creatures since it is exactly the same material that covers animal bodies,” said Shoji Takeuchi, University of Tokyo tissue engineer.
Remarkably, the artificial skin can also be healed with a collagen bandage, which the living cells take and integrate into their system to help fill in the damage.
While the results are quite amazing, the lab-grown tissue is still very limited. It cannot last long outside its nutrient solution – just like our skin, it requires a consistent supply of water to avoid drying out, but the artificial skin layers lack the complicated components of circulatory and sweat gland systems to supply such hydration.
Source: Matter (via ScienceAlert)