Japanese Robots Gain Sense of Touch
Thursday, August 25, 2005 Posted: 10:06 AM JST
Another step closer to human-like robots. A team of Japanese researchers lead by Takao Someya have developed a flexible, electronic skin capable of detecting both pressure and temperature. This advance could provide robots with a human-like sense of touch.
Previously the research team developed artificial skin that could sense pressure but it lacked the elasticity and other characteristics of human skin. To improve the artificial skin material, the team embedded organic transistor-based electronic circuits capable of sensing pressure into a thin plastic film, as well as organic semiconductors that could detect temperature. The net-like matrix was flexible enough to conform to the surface of an egg and could detect pressure and temperature simultaneously.
The team claims that the organic transistors used in the artificial skin are inexpensive and relatively easy to fabricate. They could thus be used in manufacturing robot skin and other commercial products.
Robots are big in Japan. Earlier this week stores across Japan started selling the first truly practical house-sitter robot. The Roborior can sense break-ins using infrared sensors, notify homeowners by calling their cellular phones, and send the owners cell phone videos from its digital camera.
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