Scientists create robot finger with 'slightly sweaty' living skin that can self-heal

midian182

Posts: 8,321   +103
Staff member
WTF?! Japanese scientists who have presumably never seen any of the Terminator movies have found a way to wrap living skin around a robotic finger to make it feel worryingly real and "slightly sweaty," a move they say brings humanity one step closer to human-like robots who will definitely not wipe us all out.

The University of Tokyo team published a paper on the project in the journal Matter. It explains how a robotic finger was first submerged in a cylinder filled with a solution of collagen and human dermal fibroblasts, found in the skin's connective tissue. This provides a layer for the human epidermal keratinocytes to stick to—a primary cell type of the epidermis that also produces keratin, which binds the skin cells together, making the epidermis a waterproof barrier.

In addition to looking and feeling eerily similar to a human finger, the scientists found the skin could even heal itself after being cut, though it did require help from a band-aid-like sheet of collagen.

"The finger looks slightly sweaty straight out of the culture medium," said University of Tokyo professor Shoji Takeuchi. "Since the finger is driven by an electric motor, it is also interesting to hear the clicking sounds of the motor in harmony with a finger that looks just like a real one."

There is still work to be done before the skin can precisely mimic a human's. It's not as strong as human skin, and the lack of a circulatory system providing water and nutrients means it must be kept moist. The team hopes to address this by adding channels beneath the dermis that do the same job as blood vessels. Artificial sweat glands, sensory neurons, hair follicles, and nails are also future additions that will enhance the realism.

You might be wondering why we should be creating such human-like robots that bring on the uncanny valley effect and fears of machine uprisings. But as Takeuchi explains it, "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." He said this will help "build a new relationship between humans and robots."

The scientists are also working on a skin-covered robot face, which hopefully won't speak in a thick Austrian accent.

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stewi0001

Posts: 2,794   +2,587
It's funny to have these scientists and the PR statement dance around what the only application for this will end up being by overwhelming demand: porn.
Besides adult doll toys... I wonder if this can be utilized in the world of prosthetics.
 

YouShallNotPass

Posts: 42   +89
WTF?! Japanese scientists who have presumably never seen any of the Terminator movies have found a way to wrap living skin around a robotic finger to make it feel worryingly real and "slightly sweaty," a move they say brings humanity one step closer to human-like robots who will definitely not wipe us all out.

I am not so sure. If robots one day become so real and attractive that human no longer need to have family with another real human, it is actually wiping us all out. Imagine a perfect robot partner with an optional robot child that don't age and be nice to you until the end of your life. What else do you need?
 

psycros

Posts: 4,458   +6,650
It's funny to have these scientists and the PR statement dance around what the only application for this will end up being by overwhelming demand: porn.

A certainty of big monetary returns always insures R&D funding. Nothing else will motivate the bulk of humanity, let alone the elites who decide what the "next big thing" is.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,019   +1,870
I am not so sure. If robots one day become so real and attractive that human no longer need to have family with another real human, it is actually wiping us all out. Imagine a perfect robot partner with an optional robot child that don't age and be nice to you until the end of your life. What else do you need?

This was covered in Futurama, why you don't date robots.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 753   +572
Wouldn't a titanium alloy finger that never gets damaged be far superior? You know, "Terminator" style robot finger?
Or are these scientists just 'kinky' and are thinking about things that people do in bed... :p
 

Hodor

Posts: 251   +181
I am not so sure. If robots one day become so real and attractive that human no longer need to have family with another real human, it is actually wiping us all out. Imagine a perfect robot partner with an optional robot child that don't age and be nice to you until the end of your life. What else do you need?

Did you see the movie "Cherry 2000"?

SPOILER ALERT: Unlike most of Hollywood movies, this one has unhappy ending.