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Robots get 3D-printed fingertips that can “feel” like human skin, new study says

Scientists at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have now developed a highly sensitive 3D-printed fingertip mesh of pin-sized sensors that resembles the papillae in human skin

A robotic hand with a 3D printed fingertip
A robotic hand with a 3D printed fingertip

robot have been given fingertips that can “feel” like human skin.

Machines can beat the world’s best chess player, but until now they couldn’t handle a chess piece as well as they could a toddler.

This lack of robotic dexterity is partly because artificial grippers lack the keen sense of touch of the human fingertip to guide our hands when manipulating objects.

scientist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have now developed a highly sensitive 3D-printed fingertip network of pin-sized sensors that resembles the papillae in human skin.

Prof Nathan Lepora from the University of Bristol said: “Our work is helping to unveil how the complex internal structure of human skin generates our human sense of touch.

“This is an exciting development in the field of soft robotics, capable of 3D printing tactile skin, could create robots that are more dexterous, or vastly improve the performance of prosthetic hands by giving them a built-in sense of touch.”

Papillae are found between the outer epidermal and inner dermal layers of human tactile skin.

The robotic papillae are made on advanced 3D printers that can mix soft and hard materials to create intricate structures like those found in biology.

Their findings, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, comprise the first neural recordings of human touch.

Despite the breakthrough, the robot skin still wasn’t as sensitive to fine detail.

Prof Lepora added: “We found that our 3D printed tactile fingertip can generate artificial nerve signals that look like recordings of real, tactile neurons.

“Human tactile nerves transmit signals from various nerve endings called mechanoreceptors, which can signal the pressure and shape of a contact.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/robots-given-3d-printed-fingertips-26641879 Robots get 3D-printed fingertips that can "feel" like human skin, new study says

Fry Electronics Team

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