Home A robot made out of living human skin is just as terrifying as it sounds

A robot made out of living human skin is just as terrifying as it sounds


  • Researchers tested human skin equivalents on robots to see how they attach to mechanical foundations.
  • The experiment used a 3D facial mold and perforation-type anchors to secure the cultured skin.
  • Skin-covered robots aren't mainstream yet, but the research shows potential for future applications.

The thought of robots has always been nerve racking, but their new look complete with human, living skin is enough to make anyone run away screaming.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have published a journal in Cell Reports Physical Science which shares details of an experiment inspired by human skin ligaments.

That means they tested a human skin equivalent, in the form of a living skin model composed of cells, on a robot to see how it would attach to the mechanical foundation of the ‘limbs’ or ‘face’.

Skin-covered robots thankfully won’t be making it mainstream any time soon as this is one of the first experiments to merely see if something that could cling to an artificial substrate could be created.

Can robots be covered with human skin?

With humans, there is a network of ligaments beneath the skin that connects this to the underlying muscle and tissue. The researchers aimed to see if they could create a similar version that could be manipulated in various directions without tearing or unintended distortion.

A 3D facial mold was covered with ‘skin’ and this fixation using perforation-type anchors was found to be “achieved by gelating collagen gel introduced into the anchor’s interior.”

The cultured skin was found to have self-healing capabilities which is seen in biological skin, but the minor scratches and damages that inevitably will occur could escalate into serious impairments if left unattended.

To be successful in its ability to carry biological sensors, the cultured skin has to stay alive and be moved around in the same way human skin does during everyday use.

“Skin equivalent, a living skin model composed of cells and extracellular matrix, possesses the potential to be an ideal covering material for robots due to its biological functionalities,” writes the researchers.

As a first of its kind, this research and its results introduces a new approach to adhering skin equivalents with perforation-type anchors onto robotics which could bring some new ideas for the industry. No one show Elon Musk this research, the possibilities could be terrifying!

Featured Image: Via the research paper on Cell Reports Physical Science

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Sophie Atkinson
Tech Journalist

Sophie Atkinson is a UK-based journalist and content writer, as well as a founder of a content agency which focuses on storytelling through social media marketing. She kicked off her career with a Print Futures Award which champions young talent working in print, paper and publishing. Heading straight into a regional newsroom, after graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Journalism, Sophie started by working for Reach PLC. Now, with five years experience in journalism and many more in content marketing, Sophie works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her areas of specialty span a wide range, including technology, business,…

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