Robots have recently developed increasing forms of intelligence, gained the ability to see the world around them. In an upcoming publication of Advanced Materials, there is supposed to be a peer-reviewed publication regarding a 3D printed electric “skin” that may enable robots to gain the sense of touch.
What can this be used for?
Giving robots the sense of touch can enable haptic feedback on entirely new levels which can be used for a slew of fields ranging from medicine to manufacturing and beyond.
Robots can be provided the sense of touch through the use of this new 3D printed skin. Not only can robots with the sense of touch enhance the ability of doctors and surgeons to operate through robots, it can also enable robots to perform more delicate tasks through training by feel. Some such tasks include harvesting fragile produce, operating on humans, and fragile manufacturing tasks such as microcircuitry.
How can this impact robotics in the medical field?
Robots in the medical field currently suffer from requiring human guidance to perform precision operational tasks such as surgery. This poses the problem of operators not being able to tell how hard they are pressing with the robotic extremity. Giving robots the sense of touch can enable robots to provide operators with realistic pressure sensations.
How can this impact manufacturing?
Providing robots with touch sensations can enable manufacturers to train robots based on pressure and visual inputs alike, enabling increased precision in manufacturing small and fragile components for a variety of products. Haptic feedback can enable human operators and standalone robots alike to carry out pressure sensitive tasks with ease.
What does this mean for human operators?
Recent advances in robotics have enabled machines to learn, smell, see the world, and take in other information to understand and interact with the world around them. This Bionic skin further advances the ability of robots to effectively interact with the world around them. It may also enhance the ability of remote pilots to control their machines as they would themselves.
Providing robots with the sense of touch is just the latest in a series of robotics advancements. Vision, intelligence, smell, and now touch. Robots seem to be coming closer to human with each passing day. This advancement in sensory technology continues to close the gap and enable robots to perform more and more human tasks in highly precise manners.
Much like machine vision, machine touch sensing will likely enable robots to handle increasingly complex tasks, training via sensation, and higher precision in tasks where a light touch is required. Machine touch sensing is a large step forward in both haptic feedback and robotics technology.