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TUM Researchers Develop Artificial Skin to Aid Robots

Researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are currently developing a skin for robots that offer critical information to the robot. The artificial skin will therefore supplement the robot’s perception formed by gripping hands, infrared scanners, and camera eyes.

The Bioloid Robot with 31 hexagonal sensor modules

The skin, when touched, can enable the robot to utilize its eyes for searching the source of contact or enable the robot to retreat in a spontaneous manner. These characteristics can be vital for robotic helpers who travel in changing environments.

The robotic shell features a circuit board or hexagonal plate that measures 5cm2. Each circuit board comprises four infrared sensors, which are used for identifying anything closer than 1cm. Scientist of the Institute of Cognitive Systems at TUM, Philip Mittendorfer stated that the robots also feature an accelerometer and six temperature sensors. This enables the device to register the movement of limbs accurately.

The boards are positioned in a planar structure and are worn by the robot. The sensors’ signal is processed by a computer to obtain detection capability. This allows every module to serve as a data hub for various sensory components. The scientists have currently developed a small portion of skin. However, the sensors present in the skin have shown that the concept works in a proper manner. Professor Gordon Cheng, supervisor of Mittendorfer, stated that the scientists would close the skin and develop a prototype with the sensors.

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