Scientists Start Making Artificial Skin For Robots

In the original Terminator film, protagonist Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor regarding the terminator robots that “The 600 series had rubber skin, we spotted them easy. But these are now, they look human. Sweat, bad breath, very hard to spot. I had to wait for him to move on you before I could zero him.”

But did this science fiction film again warn what the future would look like? According to CNBC, this may be so again, as scientists begin to make artificial skin for robots.

Scientists are moving robots along on that continuum by developing robotic skin that helps them gain the sense of touch. Researchers from Munich to Japan to Boston are currently looking into how to give robots tactile sensation and in some cases, feel pain.

The rush to create this technology is in response to the rise in automation. Currently there are about 3 million industrial robots in the world. By 2030, Oxford Economics estimates that robots will displace 20 million human workers worldwide. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for industrial robots is estimated at 9.4% through 2023, according to Allied Market Research.

Expanding a robot’s ability to feel ushers in more practical applications. A sensing robot can discern the texture of a surface and the amount of force on contact. Some robots can also detect temperature changes.

While those sound-like esoteric senses, Elisabeth Smela, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, points to a more salient example. “It could be useful to back up and feel somebody touching,” she said. Without such awareness, a human worker might become biased against their robot coworker.

Awareness is just one facet of being human that scientists are trying to bring to robots. While some traits — like a sense of morality — seem to be off limits, other traits such as compassion and humor appear to be fair game. source)

Science fiction is close to becoming reality in many ways.

If World War I was defined by bombs, machine guns, and poison gas, and World War II by nuclear weapons and airplanes, World War III will be defined and won or lost over the use of AI and robots.

The future is the past…

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