Robot face is made of living human skin (video)

University of Tokyo researchers have devised a way to wrap a robot's face with living human skin. First, the engineers grew the living tissue from human skin cells on a scaffold of collagen, the structural protein that gives structure to your own skin. By mimicking human skin-ligaments, they were then able to bind the skin to the complex mechanical components of the robot.

"This brings with it potential benefits to robotic platforms such as increased mobility, self-healing abilities, embedded sensing capabilities and an increasingly lifelike appearance," says professor Shoji Takeuchi, a pioneer in "biohybrid robotics," the melding of biology with mechanical engineering. "The natural flexibility of the skin and the strong method of adhesion mean the skin can move with the mechanical components of the robot without tearing or peeling away."

In the image on the right above, a flat robot face outfitted with the skin mechanically smiles. (Video below.) The image on the left is a 3D facial mold covered with living skin.

"In this study, we managed to replicate human appearance to some extent by creating a face with the same surface material and structure as humans," Takeuchi says.

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