Happy, Happy Friday! Here are some fun science stories to celebrate the end of the week.
Stretchy robotic skin
We are one step closer to creating human-like robots. Engineers from the University of Minnesota led by Michael McAlpine have built their own 3D printer and used it to create 3D printed electronic 'fabric' that can stretch up to three times in size. The fabric is made from room temperature 'inks' used to create a silicon layer, a conducting layer and a coil-shaped pressure sensor. The researchers say their method could be used to print electronic devices straight onto human skin or to give robots human-like skin that can feel the environment. They have not yet printed directly onto human skin but they have printed onto a model of a human hand. They have also tested one of their stretchy devices on a real person and found it was sensitive enough to track the person's pulse. Read more here.
Video from the University of Minnesota.
In more robotics news, researchers from Newcastle University have created a prosthetic hand with a camera attached that can 'see' surrounding objects and respond ten times more quickly than current prosthetics, which people have to learn to move. Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, one of the authors said, "Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking." They used artificial neural networks and machine learning to teach the hand how to grip different objects. More here.
Image from Newcastle University.
Remote Turtle Navigation
Korean scientists have created a device that allows humans to control a turtle's movement by thought alone. They chose turtles because, as all turtle and tortoise owners know, these animals like to escape by moving towards open light and also like to avoid objects that block their path. The turtle-controlling human can see images from a camera mounted on the turtle's back. The person then decides whether the turtle should move left, right or stay still. A wearable brain-computer interface on the person's head reads these thoughts as EEG signals and transmits them by wi-fi to a stimulator device on the turtle's back. This moves to obstruct part of the turtle's view and make it move in the desired direction. More here.
Image from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
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