Scientists are developing an electronic HAIRS robot that mimics the natural touch of human skin

A hair-raising invention! Scientists are developing an electronic HAIRS robot that mimics the natural touch of human skin

  • The system uses an anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensor system.
  • This system can accurately determine changes in magnetic fields
  • The hairs on the surface are connected to sensors, which can detect touch
  • The e-skin could be used to create more realistic humanoid robots

The idea of ​​a robot with hairy arms may sound like a concept from the latest science fiction blockbuster.

But the bizarre invention may soon become a reality, as scientists have taken a major breakthrough in the development of electronic skin with integrated artificial hair.

The hairs allow for a “natural touch” and allow us to detect different sensations such as rough and smooth, as well as the direction from which the touch is coming.

Researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology say “electronic skin” could have a wide range of uses in the future, including skin replacement for humans and artificial skin for humanoid robots.

Scientists have taken a major step forward in the development of electronic skin with integrated artificial hair

Researchers from Chemnitz University of Technology say the

Researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology say “electronic skin” could have a wide range of uses in the future, including skin replacement for humans and artificial skin for humanoid robots.

The sensory function of human hair

Touch is the least understood of our senses, but a 2011 study revealed that specialized neurons in hair follicles each function as individual sensory organs, tuned to register different types of touch.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that each follicle sends a single message that joins others in the spinal cord and together the impulses are decoded by the brain.

It is the network of neurons working together that allows us to distinguish between different sensations such as rough and smooth.

Although electronic skin systems were previously developed, they lack the ability to sense natural touch.

To counter this problem, the research team decided to develop an electronic skin with integrated artificial hair.

Christian Becker, first author of the study, said: “Our approach allows for a precise spatial arrangement of functional 3D sensory elements that can be mass-produced in a parallel manufacturing process.

“Such sensor systems are extremely difficult to generate with established microelectronic fabrication methods.”

The system uses an anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensor system, capable of accurately determining changes in magnetic fields.

AMR sensors are currently used as speed sensors in cars, to determine the position and angle of moving parts.

The researchers used a ‘micro-origami process’ to fold these sensors into 3D structures, allowing multiple sensors to be compressed into a small space.

The 3D micro-origami structure was then integrated into a single active matrix, in which each individual AMR sensor could be read by a microelectronic circuit.

The system uses an anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensor system (pictured in yellow), which can accurately determine changes in magnetic fields

The system uses an anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensor system (pictured in yellow), which can accurately determine changes in magnetic fields

“Combining active matrix magnetic sensors with self-assembling micro-origami architectures is a completely new approach to miniaturize and integrate high-resolution 3D sensing systems,” said Dr. Daniil Karnaushenko, co-author of the study.

The team has now integrated the sensor system with magnetically rooted fine hairs into an electronic skin made from an elastomeric material.

When the hairs are touched, the underlying sensors can record the movement, as well as the exact direction it is coming from, just like on real human skin.

Sensors record the exact direction from which movement is coming

When the hairs are touched, the underlying sensors can record the movement, as well as the exact direction it is coming from, just like on real human skin.

Researchers believe the e-skin could have a number of important uses in the future.

For example, it could be used as a skin substitute for humans or to develop medical sensors on the body.

Alternatively, it could allow for more realistic humanoid robots that can detect interactions with humans.

Announcement