Robots to get sensitive with artificial skin

Peratech is developing artificial skin for robots at MIT. The robo-hide will be able to detect where a robot has been touched and how hard. So think before slapping.

Peratech

British materials firm Peratech is developing artificial electronic skin for robots at MIT's Media Lab that will allow machines to know where they have been touched and with what degree of pressure. So you could tickle, back-slap, or caress your favorite robot, and it would know the difference.

Peratech is using its "quantum tunnelling composite" (QTC) material to create touch-sensitive skin for intelligent machines at MIT. QTC is a low-cost, flexible, and electrically conductive material that would give robots a new means of interacting with people.

Made of spiky metallic nanoparticles and silicone rubber, QTC works by changing from an insulator into a conductor when pressure is applied. Peratech says robots equipped with QTC skin would be able to detect where they have been touched using a matrix of sensors on various body parts.

Peratech's material has been used as a touching technology in NASA's Robonaut , and well as by the Shadow Robot Company. No doubt robotic hands and manipulators would benefit from touch-sensitive skin for better grasping of objects, but I bet sex robot developers will take a lot of interest in this sort of material, too.

(Via Technology Review)

About the author

Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.

 

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