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Japanese researchers craft "e-skin" to let robots feel

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
August 12, 2008
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The folks at the University of Tokyo have been trying to create more touchy, feely robots for what seems like ages, and they now look to have made some real progress with their so-called "e-skin," which promises to give robots a more human-like sense of touch. To do that, the researchers created a bendable rubber sheet filled with carbon nanotubes, which lets the "skin" conduct electricity even when it's stretched. When combined with sensors, that would let robots feel heat or pressure, which the researchers say is essential "as robots enter our everyday life." They also, not surprisingly, see a whole host of other applications for the technology, including on steering wheels that could judge whether people are fit to drive and in stretchable displays that could start out as a tiny sheet and be stretched to a larger size when you want to watch TV.

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