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Touchy-feely Robot-Skin for Robots (and maybe us) - Tech Digest
Everyone loves a robot. Especially a sensitive robot. Just look at WALL-E or Johnny-5. When it comes to a robot who has the capacity to feel, we all go a bit gooey inside. The cold, unfeeling, emotionless robot is a metaphor for that fear we have of losing what it is to be human. Okay, so i'm playing loose with the double-meanings behind the word 'feel' and 'sensitive', because we're not talking emotional robots, or robots with 'feelings' but rather robots which can feel. Like in objects, and surroundings. LIke we can, physically. Yes, some rather smug looking Japanese researchers/scientists/tech-bods have stumbled upon the perfect answer to the problem of making Robots completely sensitive to their environment. Be it cold, hot, hard, or soft. The skin they've developed looks like tin foil, gold tin foil like the stuff they wrap around marathon runners at the end of the race. Space Blankets i think they're called. Anyway, it looks like that, but it's not. It's a fine rubbery material that has hundreds and thousands of tiny carbon particles inside which allow conductivity of electricity. The skin can be stretched to 2.3 times it's normal size, allowing it to bend around a robot's metal frame and move with joints like a glove.