Are you ready for robots skinned with sensitive hairs?

Biomimicry in robotics has led to robots that can climb, fly, and swim better. Now researchers have developed hair-like filaments for robots that allow them to have more fine-grained senses of touch, sensing even forces as delicate as coming in contact with a piece of tissue.

From the paper:

We present a multifunctional tactile sensor inspired by human hairy skin structure, in which the sensitive hair sensor and the robust skin sensor are integrated into a single device via a pair of Co-based ferromagnetic microwire arrays in a very simple manner. The sensor possesses a self-tunable effective compliance with respect to the magnitude of the stimulus, allowing a wide range of loading force to be measured. The sensor also exhibits some amazing functions, such as air-flow detection, material property characterization, and excellent damage resistance. The novel sensing mechanism and structure provide a new strategy for designing multifunctional tactile sensors and show great potential applications on intelligent robot and sensing in harsh environments.

As American Chemical Society notes:

The hairy skin could repeatedly detect a range of pressures, including the landing of a fly, a light wind, and a ten-pound weight... A robot holding something could feel it slipping from its grasp and grab on a little tighter.

In addition to robotics, the hairs may have applications for prosthetics.

Biomimic Hairy Skin Tactile Sensor Based on Ferromagnetic Microwires (via American Chemical Society)

Start the discussion at bbs.boingboing.net