Recently, in a landmark achievement, Singapore researchers have invented a robotic hand from a smart foam material that enables it to sense close objects and has the ability to heal itself much similar to human skin. The AiFoam is a highly elastic polymer made by mixing fluoropolymer with a compound that decreases surface tension.
Newly Developed Robotic Hand has the Ability to Heal itself like Human Skin
According to the researchers at the National University of Singapore, this enables the spongy material to merge e easily into one piece when cut. The lead researcher Benjamin Tee said,
There are many applications for such material, especially in robotics and prosthetic devices, where robots need to be a lot more intelligent when working around humans.
In order to replace the human sense of touch, the researchers filled the material with microscopic metal particles and also infused tiny electrodes underneath the surface of the foam. Consequently, when pressure is exerted, the metal particles come close to each other within the polymer matrix, changing their electrical properties. Furthermore, these changes can be detected by the electrodes which is connected to a computer, which then guides the robot.
Benjamin further said,
When I move my finger near the sensor, you can see the sensor is measuring the changes of my electrical field and responds accordingly to my touch.
This feature enables the robotic arm to detect not only the amount but also the direction of applied force, thus making robots more intelligent and interactive. Tee further told that the AiFoam is the first of its kind to merge both self-healing properties and proximity and pressure sensing.