German researchers develop skin for robots

The aim of this is to enable robots to perceive their surroundings more effectively and even to balance on one leg. For the very first time, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany report that they have fully equipped a human-sized robot with an artificial skin.

A hand touching the arm of a robot

The human-sized robot to which the artificial skin was applied is called H-1. It is equipped with 1260 cells and more than 13,000 sensors on its torso, arms, legs, and even on the soles of its feet.

Microprocessors measure tactile contact, acceleration, proximity, and temperature. In comparison: The human skin has some five million receptors, as Professor Gordon Cheng and his team of researchers explain.

Until now, the greatest challenge in the development of the robot skin has been a lack of processing power – even just a few hundred sensors overwhelmed the systems. In order to solve this problem, the researchers in Munich do not permanently monitor the skin cells, but use what is known as an event-based system. In this way, the computer processing requirements can be reduced by up to 90 percent.

“Our system is designed to work smoothly and quickly with all types of robots,” Gordon Cheng explained. “We are currently working on designing smaller skin cells, which can in future be produced in larger quantities.”

Written by: sda / dpa

Photos: keystone

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