Skin for Robots

By: Abhiram Srivastava

A group of engineers at the University of Houston has developed a skin-like covering for robots. According to Cunjiang Yu, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, the skin is “a piece of rubber, but it has the function of a circuit and sensors.” By dipping a hand which was covered by the skin into hot and cold water, the team confirmed it can sense temperature. It can also sense pressure.

This skin starts out in a liquid form, so it can be poured into a mold and fitted to whatever shape the robot is.

Enabling robots to sense their surroundings gets us one step closer to creating a world where we can live side by side. However, there are some obstacles if this invention is to see use: mass production must be faster and electron transmission needs to be more efficient. The group is planning to use cheaper, more obtainable materials to fix both of these problems.

Link to University of Houston article:

I know from experience in the First LEGO Robotics League that the simpler robots need a lot of guidance to get them to do what you want. If they could feel obstacles for themselves, it would save a lot of time and energy.