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Japanese Scientists Create Smiling Robot with ‘Living’ Skin

Japanese scientists have developed a lifelike “living” skin using human cells that can be attached to robotic surfaces to create a realistic smile. Researchers from the University of Tokyo published their findings, including a video showing the pink material being stretched into a grin. Using a “skin-forming cell-laden gel,” they created a “robot covered with living skin,” as detailed in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.

The team, led by Professor Shoji Takeuchi, hopes this technology will contribute to developing androids with human-like appearances and abilities, and shed light on wrinkle formation and facial expressions, potentially aiding in the development of transplant materials and cosmetics.

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Unlike traditional silicone rubber skin, which cannot sweat or heal, this new material aims to provide robots with self-healing capabilities. In earlier studies, the team demonstrated repairing lab-grown skin on a robotic finger using collagen grafts. However, similar repair tests on the new smiling robotic skin are yet to be conducted. To achieve a “natural smile,” they gelatinized the skin-like tissue and secured it within the robot’s holes, a technique inspired by human skin ligaments.