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U of British Columbia researchers partner with Honda scientists to develop robot “skin”

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have collaborated with scientists at Honda to develop a smart “skin” for robots that could open the door for new innovations in robotics and prosthetics.

The silicone rubber skin can be stretched over a prosthetic arm or robotic limb, with built-in sensors that provide touch sensitivity to the machines, enabling more dexterous movements and gentler handling capabilities.

“Our sensor can sense several types of forces, allowing a prosthetic or robotic arm to respond to tactile stimuli with dexterity and precision,” says study author Mirza Saquib Sarwar. “For instance, the arm can hold fragile objects like an egg or a glass of water without crushing or dropping them.”

The skin’s soft texture also makes machines more lifelike and approachable for human users.

“This unique combination is key to adoption of the technology for robots that are in contact with people,” says John Madden, senior study author.

According to the researchers, the technology is easy to manufacture and therefore scalable to meet varying requirements.

“As sensors continue to evolve to be more skinlike and can also detect temperature and even damage, there is a need for robots to be smarter about which sensors to pay attention to and how to respond,” adds Madden. “Developments in sensors and artificial intelligence will need to go hand in hand.”

Source: IOT World Today

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