Optical Sensor-Laden Skin Gives Robots a Softer Touch

As robots become more involved in delicate tasks such as autopsies or surgeries, we need their touch to be as precise and sensitive as possible. To have that, we'll need to give them a skin-like surface full of optical sensors.

Existing sensors, which are essentially pressure switches, don't detect subtle changes in pressure or texture, which translated into an extreme scenario could mean you'd get your bones pulverized by a robot hand. Ok, maybe nothing that extreme, but as the pressure switches are not sensitive enough for some tasks, the folks at the Ghent University in Belgium decided to use a polymer-based optical "skin" instead. They're still working on a prototype, so don't get too excited about upgrading your killer robot just yet. [New Scientist via Pop Sci]