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Robotic skin can animate objects

Out There | October 22, 2018 | By:

Photo: Yale University.

Scientists at Yale University have developed a robotic skin that can be applied to inanimate objects seemingly bringing them to life. The elastic “skin” sheets are embedded with a variety of sensors and actuators capable of animating the legs of a stuffed animal or causing a foam tube to flex.

This type of robotic technology could make it possible to use the same skin to add motion to a range of motionless items. Prototypes created by the team include foam cylinders able to crawl on the ground and a robot gripper that can grasp and move objects.

“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,” Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, lead researcher on the project, has reported. “We can then take those same skins off that object and put them on a shirt to make an active wearable device.”

A paper describing the work, titled “Omniskins: Robotic Skins That Turn Inanimate Objects into Multifunctional Robots,” was published in the journal Science Robotics. The lab now plans to examine the possibility of 3D printing these components.

Video: Yale University.

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