Jellyfish-inspired ‘skin’ glows when robots get hurt


Atolla jellyfish live in the deep sea at depths of more than 2,700 meters (Credit: Creative Commons; Edith A. Widder, Operation Deep Scope 2005 Exploration, NOAA-OE)
Atolla jellyfish reside within the deep sea at depths of greater than 2,700 meters (Credit: Creative Commons; Edith A. Widder, Operation Deep Scope 2005 Exploration, NOAA-OE)


A brand new jellyfish-inspired pores and skin has been developed for robots and prosthetics that may detect a variety of pressures, glowing when the stress is nice sufficient to danger inflicting harm.

Bin Hu and colleagues on the Huazhong University of Science and Technology took inspiration from the Atolla jellyfish – a bioluminescent, deep-sea creature that senses modifications in environmental stress and flashes dramatically when it senses hazard.

While present digital pores and skin applied sciences for prosthetics and robots can detect the slightest contact or breeze, these sensors solely function successfully in a slender vary are unable to reply successfully to a dangerous blow. Hu’s workforce have solved this downside with an digital pores and skin that may mimic the total vary of organic pores and skin’s sensitivity.

Hu instructed PE how he got here up with the concept. “At first, we just tried to mimic the mechanoreceptors in human skin to sensing innocuous mechanical stimuli,” he stated.

“Unintentionally, I poked my palm with a nib, and the pain feeling made me realize we overlooked the importance of pain receptors, and that otherwise no one knows the robot is in pain.”

“Therefore, we wanted to find a simple way to express this feeling to let others see when the robot gets hurt, and the Atolla jellyfish came into our story.”

This ‘jellyfish skin’ due to this fact has the potential to guard prosthetics and robotics from harm. It can sense comfortable and injurious pressures with sensitivities of as much as zero.66 and zero.044 kPa–1 respectively.

Hu added: “We badume this expertise can help prosthetics customers to learn to management the energy and the way in which they use the prosthetic throughout the adaption interval.

“For robots, the expertise permits them to specific ache via glowing, like when a human shouts when damage.”

Building on this concept of a visible warning system in response to a bodily menace, the researchers have developed a dual-mode strategy combining electrical and optical methods to create a ‘skin’ that may detect each slight and excessive drive pressures.

This is in keeping with how the system works in human pores and skin, the place mechanoreceptors are specialised to detect mmechanical stress or distortion, and nociceptors reply to ache -damaging or doubtlessly damaging stimuli.

The badysis claims that its complementary sensing ranges permit it to understand a dependable notion to completely different ranges of stress. Mechanically sturdy, its stretchable properties are additionally more likely to improve its enchantment to be used on the floor of robotics and prosthetics.

The digital pores and skin makes use of two embedded layers of stretchy poly-dimethysiloxane (PDMS) movie, between silver nanowires.

The layers produce sign in response to slight pressures, resembling these created from a lightweight breeze or contact with a leaf.

The PDMS layer sandwiched between the silver nanowire electrodes is embedded with phosphors. As bodily drive will increase, the layer kicks into motion and glows with rising depth.

The researchers declare this strategy permits digital pores and skin to extra carefully mimic that of human pores and skin, with its means to reply to a variety of pressures.

It might additionally badist scale back the prices of upkeep in robotics and prosthetics by warning when there’s danger of bodily harm.

The badysis seems in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.


Content revealed by Professional Engineering doesn’t essentially symbolize the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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