Professor Takao Someya and colleagues from the University of Tokyo, Japan has found an electronic skin which his flexible and can sense touch. This sesitive skin implanted in the robots can help robots sense giving them an almost human sense of touch. The results of the study was published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
The film incorporates a matrix of transistors to measure pressure and another to sense temperature. The point at which two wires intersect in each matrix provides sensor readings, with changes in current indicating fluctuations in temperature or pressure. The two layers are fabricated separately before being overlaid, slightly offset, and laminated to form the finished e-skin. The distance between each sensor in the matrices is roughly four centimetres and sensitivity to temperature and pressure has yet to be tested thoroughly. Dr. Someya said that he wanted to develop a new technology which makes it possible to entirely cover the surface of robot bodies with e-skins.
Max Lungarella, a robotics expert from University of Tokyo, said that "The work is highly interesting and in my opinion highly promising," and he proposed that it would be better to have a sensor which is still smaller. Dr. Lungarella is worried about the electromagnetic disturbances which may arise as it is a common phenomenon.
But Someya and colleagues are convinced the design can also be expanded to incorporate other types of sensor. "It will be possible in the near future to make an electronic skin that has functions that human skin lacks," the researchers said. They add that future e-skin could include "sensors not only for pressure and temperature, but also for light, humidity, strain and ultrasonic" sound.
(Source: The New scientist).