Scientists create a robotic finger with living skin
A robotic finger covered with living skin can bend and heal, researchers recently reported.
Why it matters: Skin provides humans and other animals with a sense of touch — a key way of taking information in about the world. Giving robots that sense could help them to interact more naturally with humans.
How it works: The three-jointed robotic finger was placed in a solution of collagen and human skin cells to create a first layer of skin.
- Then, another solution with human keratinocyte cells that form the epidermis was added. Over two weeks, an outer layer of skin formed, Michio Kawai and colleagues at the University of Tokyo report in the journal Matter.
- After a small cut on the finger was covered with a collagen sheet, the wound healed within a week.
But, but, but ... The skin equivalent in the study can't survive in the air for a long period of time, they write.
- "A future challenge is to reproduce the components of the skin, including nerves and appendages (i.e., sweat glands, nails, etc.), so that robots can acquire these skin-specific functions."