Robots Can Have Skin Now | SciShow News

[ ♪INTRO ] Robot designs have come a long way. But there’s one thing we haven’t been
able to give our mechanical creations: skin. I mean, obviously we’ve been able to coat
robots in plastics that look like skin — or, just enough like skin to be terrifying. But a sensitive outer layer that really acts
like skin has remained out of reach… until now, apparently. Last week, scientists publishing in the journal
Proceedings of the IEEE outlined how they made the first autonomous robot with full-body
skin. Artificial skin is a holy grail of sorts for
robotics because a better sense of touch could help robots in a lot of ways. They need to really feel — like we do — to
excel at everything from maintaining balance to performing delicate medical procedures. But making skin isn’t as simple as slapping
on a bunch of sensors. The skin itself needs to be tough but flexible,
so it doesn’t get in the robot’s way. And perhaps the biggest issue is computing
power. A large sheet of sensors produces an unbelievable
amount of data. Luckily, as the team explained in their paper,
we’re finally at a point where engineering and computing can come together to make robot
skin a reality. The researchers started with individual hexagonal
“cells” measuring about 3 centimeters across. Each is packed with sensors that can detect
things like temperature, pressure, and acceleration, and can connect to up to four other sensors
to form patches of artificial skin. In all, the team was able to give a human-sized
robot more than thirteen thousand sensors without interfering with its ability to move
about. That was the easy part. The real challenge was solving the data problem. And they did that in a really cool way: by
mimicking human skin. Our skin has millions of sensors in it that
can detect things like heat, vibration, and pressure. And as amazing as these computers in our heads
are, even they would be overloaded if all of those sensors were continuously sending
data. That’s why they don’t. Some feed information to our brain frequently,
but others only send signals when something changes dramatically. And that is the thing the engineers mimicked. Instead of having each sensor constantly feeding
information to the central computer, they designed sensors that only send signals when
there’s something important to share. Thanks to its human-inspired skin, the team’s
humanoid robot was able to complete sensitive physical tasks like sorting oranges based
on their squishiness and giving people hugs. The team has even integrated the cells into
prosthetics to help people with spinal cord injuries learn to walk again. And they hope their robotic skin will eventually
help all sorts of machines make sense of the world around them — so they can be even
more useful to us. In other news, new research in the journal
Science Advances suggests modern reef-building corals may have an ancient strategy to survive
climate change. Stony corals have been around since at least
the Triassic, so they’ve survived a lot in their time on Earth. One way they did that was a process called
rejuvenescence. You see, what we think of as a coral is actually
a big colony made up of countless little individual polyps. Those are small, anemone-like creatures that
build snug-fitting calcium carbonate skeletons around themselves. And fossils suggest that when times get really
tough, these polyps can shrink and hunker down in smaller shelters. It’s thought that the shrinking cuts the
polyp’s energetic costs — a bit like moving into a studio apartment to save on rent and
utilities. Then, the surviving polyp can grow again when
conditions improve. The only thing is, no one had ever seen this
in a living coral. Paleontologists had pieced together the idea
from fossils of mini-polyps inside the skeletons of larger ones. But since 2002, scientists working off the
Mediterranean coast of Spain have been involved in a huge coral monitoring project. They’ve been keeping an eye on over 240
individual colonies of cushion coral and documenting what happens to them year after year. Each fall, they’d dive down and record any
heat-induced damage with photos and sketches. And at first, things seemed pretty bleak. A lot of the corals died from the stress of
unusually warm summer waters. But as they kept taking their logs, it turned
out many of the dead colonies were just mostly dead. Extreme close-up photographs revealed tiny,
living polyps hidden in their old skeletons. And years after a major mortality event, these
little survivors were able to regrow. The scientists eventually saw at least some recovery in about 40% of the colonies that had seemed dead. And 13% of them had returned to almost full health after a decade. The time delay for recovery might be part
of the reason why we haven’t seen rejuvenescence in living corals before. Either the colonies weren’t monitored long
enough after they seemed to die, or, if records weren’t precise, recovered colonies might
have been mistaken for ones that were never damaged. The authors think lots of different corals
may ride out bad conditions this way — though, to be fair, they only examined one species. So we’ll need to take a closer look at other
corals to see if they can similarly bounce back. And none of this lets us off the hook for
anything. Coral reefs are still struggling, and they
will continue to struggle if we keep filling the oceans with trash and dialing up the planet’s
thermostat. But findings like this give us additional
hope that if we do clean up our act, these wonderful animals might be able to flourish
again someday. [Hank] And that’s not all the news I have
to share today! We here at SciShow have an announcement as
well: Our psych channel has a new host: It’s Anthony
Brown! And we’re really excited to have you. Anthony is a man of many talents: performer,
producer, musician, and beatboxer… [Anthony] Oh yeah. [ANTHONY STARTS BEATBOXING] [Hank]
Oh, uh, I feel the flow coming on… Ah, Ah, Ok
An-tho-ny is our new psych host He’s got loys of talents of which to boast
He comes from Wisconsin, the land of cheese And he’ll be breaking down all of the psychology
He’ll be joining the channel with me and Brit He’s going to be awesome at hosting it So let’s say Hi to our new Psych MC
And welcome him to the SciShow family! [Anthony stops beatboxing] [Hank] Wow… Am I fired? Will I ever live that down? Or is this… [Anthony] It was pretty good! [Hank] Anyhow, Anthony’s first episode will
be airing next week over on So if you aren’t subscribed to the channel,
now is a good time to check it out! Thanks for joining us, Anthony. [Anthony] Thank you! [ ♪OUTRO ]

100 thoughts on “Robots Can Have Skin Now | SciShow News”

  1. Are we actually racing towards Terminators? I rewatched the first one not too long ago, and the future year used there…is only 2029. Ten years from now.

  2. Thank you for the optimism Hank 🙂 although even if the corals eventually come back, the ecosystems they support may not survive their rejuvenation 🙁

  3. As soon as this and artificial intelligence can be implemented into sex robots, women will become obsolete

  4. We do not need robots that how we get mix up and they take over are world watch Chucky you'll see but we don't need robot 🤖 it's hit warming are earth

  5. The very idea of putting a jacket of fake skin on my iPhone or iPad disgusts me. At least it is isn’t REAL biological skin. Such a ghoulish idea.

  6. Science is going too far with this and I'm kinda nervous. There's been plenty of movies showing why robots like that are not a good idea. Scientists and engineers are like smart crackheads, lmao

  7. There are days i think this life is nothing but some sort of training and explaining period and I'll wake up and find out I'm really an Android

  8. 2:34 So you are saying the first thing they implemented on an expensive robot full of sensors is… giving… people… hugs… 8D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *