Scientists have achieved a remarkable feat by creating a living skin using fungus and an eerie model resembling the Terminator from the classic 1984 sci-fi movie. Their motivation for this project is to develop biodegradable skin for robots that can provide them with the ability to experience physical sensations.
This innovative endeavor draws upon mycelium technology, which utilizes the root structure of fungi to produce a bio-cybernetic entity. In simpler terms, they have cultivated a special type of fungus, Ganoderma sessile mycelium, on the surface of a model resembling the Terminator, resulting in what they call “living skin.” This skin is not only alive but also self-regenerating and responsive to stimuli such as light exposure and touch.
While this breakthrough holds significant promise for the future of robotics, it’s worth noting that the research has yet to undergo peer review in a scientific journal. However, the details of the study can be found on the Research Square website, providing an opportunity for the wider scientific community to assess and validate these findings.
The potential applications of this fungal skin technology are extensive. It could revolutionize the field of robotics by enabling the creation of sensitive robots capable of detecting and responding to various environmental factors, such as light and touch. Currently, electronic sensors exist for these purposes, but they are often difficult to manufacture and rely on non-biodegradable materials like silicone.
Antoni Gandia and Andrew Adamatzky, the researchers behind this project, suggest that fungal skin could be a more accessible and versatile alternative to traditional sensors. Gandia explained the inspiration behind their work by referencing a scene from The Terminator where a robot is given artificial skin that reports data to the robot and can repair itself. They wanted to demonstrate that this concept is not purely science fiction and can be achieved.
In their experiments, the scientists covered an 18cm tall Terminator model with the fungus. Over a few days, the fungus grew to create a skin-like surface. Electrodes were attached to this fungal skin, demonstrating its responsiveness to various stimuli.
Looking ahead, this fungus-based technology could pave the way for the development of futuristic sensors that could be integrated into robots, buildings, and other applications, offering improved environmental awareness and sustainability.