Sensitive robots are safer

October 31, 2019

The artificial skin developed by Prof. Gordon Cheng and his team consists of hexagonal cells about the size of a two-euro coin (i.e. about one inch in diameter). Each is equipped with a microprocessor and sensors to detect contact, acceleration, proximity and temperature. Such artificial skin enables robots to perceive their surroundings in much greater detail and with more sensitivity. This not only helps them to move safely. It also makes them safer when operating near people and gives them the ability to anticipate and actively avoid accidents.

Because the skin consists of cells, and not a single piece of material, it remains functional even if some cells stop working. “Our system is designed to work trouble-free and quickly with all kinds of robots,” Cheng says. “Now we're working to create smaller skin cells with the potential to be produced in larger numbers.”

Inspired by human skin, a team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a system combining artificial skin with control algorithms and used it to create the first autonomous humanoid robot with full-body artificial skin.