Scientists reportedly came up with a new robot skin material that enables a cyborg to sense warm bodies nearby. The inventors are said to have pulled inspiration from vipers which are known for catching preys through their senses. Following this, robots to use this ‘new robot skin’ will be able to detect humans who come near them.
A heat-sensing film has been developed by scientists which they plan to use on robot skins. The film is revealed to have the ability to detect even the tiniest temperature changes which is the same as the viper’s sensors used in finding its prey. Researchers of this new robot skin foresee the discovery being used for search and rescue where robots will be utilized to locate missing humans in disaster zones.
The new robot skin that can sense warm bodies nearby was developed by Raffaele Di Giacomo along with his colleagues at Zurich Switzerland as reported by the New Scientist. The heat sensing-film developed by the team was made flexible with transparent coating made with pectin that can fit through the mechanical parts of robots. The pectin was ten casted to the new robot skin through a mold which was then mixed with calcium chloride solution. This solution was then dried through a vacuum until it transformed into a transparent film.
According to the Mail Online, the technology was tested by the team using a microwaved teddy bear at a temperature reaching 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37°C). A thermal camera then was used to determine the toy’s temperature and ensured that it remained constant. It was then placed near the robot skin and from a series of tests, it was found out that the technology is indeed capable of detecting warm bodies.
Providing a 360 warmth sensing to a robot is expected to allow the cyborgs to avoid humans as it moves though crowds which will be helpful in life-saving activities. Furthermore, this capability will allow the robots to avoid self-damage. This will then allow the machines to perform more tasks compared to regular robots.
As for the cost in producing such robots, Di Giacomo and his team noted that the pectin films cost “ultra-low” price. Moreover, the films are scalable, insensitive to pressure and bendable which allow them to intensify temperature sensing capabilities. Following these features, experts are looking into using the technology on prosthetics to help amputated patients regain at least their sensory feedback.
Surprisingly, the film can be sprayed or dip-coated according to Di Giacomo like the cyborgs used in the popular HBO TV series “Westworld” without damaging. This will then help make the robot look more life-like. The warmth sensing ability of the new skin robot technology is expected by researchers to give not only robots, but almost any object temperature-sensing capabilities.