Robots Made To Don Artificial Skin By Oxford Scientists For Future TransplantBy Mark Spencer, UniversityHerald Reporter
The past decades has shown a promising development in producing humanoid robots. The divide between man and machine seem to be thinning as advancement in technology is discovered. Many robots are given anamorphic forms and are enveloped in latex and silicone skins.
A team of researchers from ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology earlier this year has designed a material that is more sensitive than actual human skin. It was patterned after the pit viper's pit organ; it is found between the eyes and nose of the reptile that can detect any prey from a distance of a few feet.
The researcher's findings in producing the material may be helpful it providing hypersensitive feedback for use in prosthetics and robotic limbs, according to Digital Trends. The study showed that pectin could be employed as an artificial sensor. However, though remarkable, pectin was found to be too rigid.
The material's rigidity was solved by project leader Rafaelle Di Giacomo and doctoral student Luca Bonanomi after developing a thin film of pectin only 100 micrometers thin. What they developed was a biometric temperature-sensing layer for artificial skins, and their work was published in the journal Science Robotics.
Following ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology findings, a team of Oxford professors proposed a provocative idea of growing human tissue on humanoid robots. Biomedical researchers Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr, are concerned with the interaction of tissue and bone.
In pursuit of studying strategies to repair injuries to tendons via tissue engineering, it was deduced that their lab-grown tissues had to undergo a series of tests as if the tissue was attached to a human body.
However, current bioreactor systems are still in the infancy stage and are quite expensive. This prompted the pair to look and design their own alternatives that would solve the dilemma. Also publishing their findings in the journal Science Robotics, they propose grafting tissue on humanoid robots, for future transplant, they say is now becoming technically possible and relevant scientifically.
According to the researchers, relevant tissue grafts need to be pushed and pulled in multiple directions to test its adaptability, and to closely mimic both structure and movements of a patient's body. Apparently, tissue created in stationary environments and grafted to patients are uncomfortable, according to the Fossbytes.
The researchers currently need to conduct proof of concept, to be able to test their proposal in the near future. Android with humanlike skins may be eerie, but if it would benefit people in the future, it is believed the cringe level can be brought down a notch.