Robots Need Realistic Skin!

Without realistic robot skin, robots will never have that humanlike personal touch, and will not have the degree of social acceptance that we all want robots to have.

"Touch is important in social interactions. Social touch are all those instances in which people touch each other, when shaking hands, when giving a pat in the back as a sign of congratulations and even in high-fives. Unless some form of alternative greetings are invented in the future, the typical social touches exchanged among humans may likely remain even with social robots...

Yet, one should not easily assume that humans will be comfortable with the idea of shaking an artificial hand made from a stiff material and can grip with a force that can reach up to 100 Newtons. In addition to the appropriate controls for a safe handshake grip and other forms of social touch, humanlike skin softness would be a reasonable requirement for the sociable robots envisioned to directly interact with humans in a social setting.

Human skin has properties that are not easy to replicate in synthetics. The authors of the paper identified three specific qualities that must be replicated to give that genuine human skin feeling:

  • Skin compliance
    The degree to which skin can be deformed by a force.
  • Conformance
    The degree to which the shape of skin conforms to an object that it touches or rests upon.
  • Hysteresis
    The difference between the way it deforms and then reforms - how force applied to skin is dissipated.
Yes, yes - I know what you're thinking. What about good old silicone and polyurethane? The authors test these simplistic skin substitutes and find them wanting. Take a look at their skin materials testing machine.


(From Sociable robots and prosthetics [pdf])

Skip down to the link set within this article for the creepiest robot skin of all. Guaranteed to pass all tests.

Robots like the ones depicted in the upcoming film Surrogates would just be crude mechanical contraptions without convincing skin.

Find out more about various attempts to create more realistic humanlike robot skin:

From Towards Humanlike Social Touch for Sociable Robotics and Prosthetics: Comparisons on the Compliance, Conformance and Hysteresis of Synthetic and Human Fingertip Skins (pdf) by John-John Cabibihan, Stéphane Pattofatto, Moez Jomâa, Ahmed Benallal and Maria Chiara Carrozza. Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/24/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...' - Martin Caidin, 1972.

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...' - James P. Hogan, 1979.

China Delivery Robot Development Quickens During COVID-2019 Outbreak
'Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...'

Virtual Whitney Houston In Concert
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Robot Teaches Itself To Walk
'My whole idea is to get away from a machine with a set of prearranged instructions, and let them teach themselves by trial and error.'

DARPA's Subterranean Challenge
Let the machines explore the underground city!

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.