Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created living skin to cover robots made from human cells. It is made up of collagen, fibroblasts and keratinocytes.
In the lab, Japanese scientists have created a living skin to cover the robot, which is made of human cells growing on a plate. The researchers aim to create a coating capable of making ethnographic robots as natural as possible, the current artificial skins (based on silicon) will not do their job very well. From a distance or in the video they can actually show the real, Japanese scientists explain, but it is enough to go to them to realize the “strategy”. Since human-like robots are considered to be particularly valuable in various fields, especially healthcare, according to high-tech leather manufacturers, they will have an advantage if they look like real humans. The results of the pioneer – and obviously a little annoying – test is a mechanical finger that is a true biohybrid with self-healing ability, completely covering the skin of living human beings.
Robotic fingers covered with human skin. 1 credit
Creating robot skins from living human cells was a research team led by scientists from the Tokyo School of Computing and Technology, who worked closely with colleagues at the Institute of Industrial Sciences (IIS) and the International Center for Research on Neurointelligence (WPI). -IRCN). Researchers, in collaboration with Professor Shoji Takuchi, a lecturer in the Department of Mechano-Computing at the Japanese University, created the cover by extending it directly around the robotic finger. The three-jointed instrument – to mimic the phalanges – was filled in a cylindrical container with a solution of collagen and human dermal fibroblasts, “the two main components that make up the connective tissue of the skin,” the scientists explained. Statement
Credit: University of Tokyo / Matter
Since collagen and fibroblasts have a natural tendency to shrink in solution, it creates a perfect “garment” of skin around the robotic finger, wrapping it in a thick, tight-fitting sheath. Around this first layer, Professor Takeuchi and his colleagues created a second layer of human keratinocytes, the most abundant cell in the epidermis and responsible for the production of keratin, the protein in hair, nails and hair follicles. Keratinocytes form almost all the outer layers of living skin for robots, consistent with real things. The coating obtained also has the properties of elasticity and resistance which enables the robot to break without repeated movement of the fingers. In the case of wounds, however, since scientists believe that it is living skin, it is sufficient to apply a collagen bandage to regenerate it and repair the “wound”.
Credit: University of Tokyo / Matter
“We were amazed at how well the skin tissue adapted to the robot’s surface,” said Professor Takuchi. “But this is just the first step in creating a robot covered in living skin,” the expert added. Composed of living matter, the robot’s skin “cannot survive long without a regular supply of nutrients and elimination of waste”, Japanese researchers explain. In addition, the material is significantly less durable than genuine leather. Scientists not only want to overcome these barriers, but they also want to add extra living ingredients to the skin, such as “sensitive neurons, hair follicles, nails and sweat glands”.
While this is an impressive research project, there is no doubt that it has some controversial and even rather annoying aspects. We are still a long way from seeing ethnographic robots like us roaming the streets, but based on these studies and artificial intelligence, one day we can really imagine the dystopian future we have imagined in many books and movies. It is no coincidence that, according to Professor Tekeuchi, living skin is “the ultimate solution to make robots look and feel like living creatures because it is exactly the same material that covers the animal body.” But do we really need it? Details of the “Robot’s Living Skin” study have been published in the scientific journal Matter.