At Stanford University researchers have created an electronic skin that is sensitive enough to give robotic hands the ability to handle delicate berries. Though mostly intended for robotic hands, the technology may give powered prostheses similar capabilities.
The e-skin can measure slight pressures and even the direction in which they’re applied, which gives enough information to a pair of robotic fingers to manipulate soft and even squishy objects without damaging them. It also can measure the temperature and has other sensors built-in that can help an artificial hand be more like the real one.
“This technology puts us on a path to one day giving robots the sort of sensing capabilities found in human skin,” said Zhenan Bao, the lead researcher on the project.
The finger tips of the e-skin have bumps, just like ours that make fingerprints, and these are what give the e-skin the ability to sense direction as they move as they’re pushed.
Here’s a short video showing off the technology: