Japanese researchers create living skin that makes robots smile

Japanese researchers create living skin that makes robots smile
Japanese researchers create living skin that makes robots smile

The images of these futuristic faces represent a major technological advance in the bio-hybrid robot sector.

A pink, flabby face, with bulging eyes and a smile that is hard to make out. If this strange vision doesn’t ring a bell, it has nevertheless gone viral in the press and social networks in recent days. At the origin of this craze, a video published on the website of the journal Cell Reports Physical Science. We see robot faces with skin resembling human skin and designed with characteristics close to it.

“The prototype looks more like a Haribo than a human”for example, comments the BBC. On X, Internet users are concerned about seeing these robots become increasingly humanoid and mention the game “Detroit Become Human” by the studio Quantic Dream. The game in question, released in 2018, addressed the moral questions behind the creation of androids that are increasingly similar to human beings.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have designed skin made of collagen and elastin to give robots a human appearance.
Cell Reports Physical Science

This technology, worthy of a science fiction film, was born in Japan thanks to researchers from the University of Tokyo. To make robots even more human, they developed a prototype of cellular skin created in the laboratory. It is composed of collagen and elastin whose small connecting tissues allow “fluid facial expressions and body movements,” can be read in the study. The texture is able to completely cover 3D structures.

Skin that regenerates

This is how the skin in question, placed on an animated face, is able to smile as in the video. “Inspired by this smile movement generated by the action of the zygomaticus major muscle, we created a robotic face covered with a dermis equivalent and a silicone layer connected to a slide via the perforation-type anchorsthe researchers detail in their study. The sliding motion can produce deformation of the silicone layer to generate the smile expression.”

Better yet, this new kind of skin is capable of “to regenerate”scientists note. Because, once the gel is applied to the 3D structure, it is perforated to fix holes. Which are then filled with the collagen that allows this important regeneration. “Unlike other self-healing materials, which require heat or pressure to trigger adhesion to damaged surfaces, this counterpart can regenerate defects through cell proliferation without any triggers.”assures the head of the study, Professor Shoji Takeuchi. According to him, the exploitation of this model could find applications in the cosmetics industry and in that of orthopedic surgery.

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