BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 13 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve developed a pressure-sensitive material from semiconductor nanowires that can mimic human skin and improve robotic performance.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, say the material — dubbed e-skin — could overcome a key problem in robotics, determining the amount of force needed to hold and manipulate a wide range of objects, a university release said Monday.
“The idea is to have a material that functions like the human skin, which means incorporating the ability to feel and touch objects,” Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering, said.
“Humans generally know how to hold a fragile egg without breaking it,” Javey said. “If we ever wanted a robot that could unload the dishes, for instance, we’d want to make sure it doesn’t break the wine glasses in the process. But we’d also want the robot to be able to grip a stock pot without dropping it.”
The researchers said the e-skin could detect pressures in a range comparable to the force used for such daily activities as typing on a keyboard or holding an object.
A longer term goal for the e-skin would be to restore the sense of touch to patients with prosthetic limbs, they said.
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