This robotic skin can turn everyday objects into robots

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : This would probably be a great discovery by scientists. They have developed an electronic skin that can turn everyday objects including paper balls, animal toys et into robots. Researchers at Yale University in the US have invented the robotic skins which would enable common people to design their own robotic systems.

Robotic skins are made from elastic sheets embedded with sensors and actuators. If fixed on a deformable object the skins animate these objects from their surfaces. The makeshift robots can perform different tasks depending on the properties of the soft objects and how the skins are placed. The study has been published in the journal Science Robotics.

“We can take the skins and wrap them around one object to perform a task — locomotion, for example — and then take them off and put them on a different object to perform a different task, such as grasping and moving an object,” said Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, an assistant professor at Yale. “We can then take those same skins off that object and put them on a shirt to make an active wearable device,” said Kramer-Bottiglio.

Experts say that robots are generally built with a single purpose in mind. But now, the robotic skins will allow users to create multi-functional robots, meaning they can be used in settings that hadn’t even been considered when they were designed, said Kramer-Bottiglio. In addition, using more than one skin at a time allows for more complex movements. For instance, Kramer-Bottiglio said, you can layer the skins to get different types of motion.

“Now we can get combined modes of actuation — for example, simultaneous compression and bending,” she said.

To explain the function of electronic skins in action, the researchers created a handful of prototypes. These include foam cylinders that move like an inchworm, a shirt-like wearable device designed to correct poor posture, and a device with a gripper that can grasp and move objects. 

Researchers also mentioned that the robotic skin technology has been designed in partnership with NASA, and its multifunctional and reusable nature would allow astronauts to accomplish list of tasks with the reconfigurable material.