For some years, researchers have been working on robot dexterity, attempting to offer the robots human-like sensibility. This has not been a simple feat, because even the most advanced robots have difficulty grasping this notion. As per an announcement released by the institution, Nathan Lepora, Professor of Robotics & Artificial Intelligence from the University of Bristol’s Department of Engineering Maths and headquartered at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, might well have achieved a fundamental milestone in this domain. The researchers utilized a 3D-printed network of pin-like papillae underneath the pliable skin to mimic the cutaneous epithelium present between the outer epidermal and inner dermal layers of human skin. They then employed powerful 3D printers that can mix soft and hard materials to produce structures previously only present in biological assets. The team is currently attempting to make the artificial fingertip as sensitive to fine detail as the legitimate thing. The 3D-printed skin is now thicker than natural skin, which may impede this development. As a result, Lepora’s team is presently developing 3D printing structures on the minuscule size of human skin.
“Our purpose is to design artificial skin as excellent as or even superior to actual skin,” Professor Lepora said. The ultimate product might have a broad array of applications in tissue engineering, including the Metaverse. The researchers discovered that the artificial fingertip matched nerve impulses received in humans extremely well, although it was not as sensitive to fine detail. This might be because the 3D-printed skin is thicker than that of grown-up people, but in the future, the technology could be developed to build on a diminutive size.
The bumps are created using 3D printers, which can combine soft and hard materials to produce complex structures similar to those seen in biology. “In our experiment, we evaluated our 3D-printed artificial fingertip as it ‘felt’ those identical ridged forms and observed a surprisingly near match to the neurological data,” Prof Lepora added. While the artificial fingertip and human nerve impulses were found to be fairly near, it was not as receptive to intricate detail. Prof. Lepora believes this is due to the 3D-printed skin being thicker than genuine skin, and his team is currently investigating ways to 3D-print components on the tiny size of human skin. Two publications in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface reported on the observations.