Japanese Researchers Create Robotic Fingers using Cultures of Skin Cells

In Education

Recently, a study team was successful in creating a robotic finger using living skin from human skin cells. According to an article in Japan Today, the team led by Professor Shoji Takeuchi made this extraordinary scientific discovery at the University of Tokyo.

Researchers create robotic fingers using cultured human skin

Compared to the silicon that most modern androids employ, this most recent development offers a substantial improvement. In addition to never quite getting over the ‘uncanny valley,’ silicon rubber is thought to have issues with sensors and maintenance.

In order to integrate organic matter with machines, the skin serves as the first stage. Additionally, it enables the integration of sensory organs and nerves, like olfactory receptors, that can distinguish between smells.

A type of blood vessel that can supply the skin would also be a crucial addition, as the skin can currently only exist outside the cultured cells for about an hour. The skin is attached to a metal structure by a series of mushroom-shaped attachments and is around 1.5 millimeters thick.

Additionally, because the skin is composed of live cells, it possesses the capacity to mend itself when a collagen sheet is applied to the injured area.

According to SoraNews 24, while such advancements may also benefit human skin transplants, one important benefit is the construction of three-dimensional (3D) models that could be used to accurately test medications and cosmetics rather than using animals. In essence, this skin can be used to cover artificial arms to make them appear more natural.

Previously researchers created a hybrid robot with muscle cells 

It has been done before to create robots with “living parts.” A different SoraNews 24 article from 2018 stated that researchers from Tokyo University were developing the first hybrid robot with functional muscles at the time.

The study team, also directed by Professor Takeuchi, created a robot that could successfully use genuine muscles as part of its never-ending quest to advance robotics, thus, by application, human life. The researchers created contractions by affixing lab-cultured muscle cells onto plastic bones and applying genuine electric currents to the apparatus.

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