Researchers at the University of Tokyo say they have developed a method to culture a living human skin equivalent which can cover the surface of robots.
A research group led by Professor Takeuchi Shoji says they used two types of human skin cells to culture a living skin material.
The cells and a robot in the shape of a human finger were cultured together in a dedicated container, resulting in the formation of a skin equivalent about 1.5 millimeters thick around the robotic finger.
The researchers say the skin equivalent has a water-repelling function and can handle repeated stretching and contracting of the finger's joints.
They say the lab-cultured skin also has a self-healing ability. They confirmed that a wound on the skin equivalent was repaired by putting a collagen sheet on the wound for seven days.
They note, however, that the living skin cannot last long outside its culture solution.
The latest achievement by the Japanese research group is viewed as an important robotic technology for the future.
Professor Takeuchi said that he wants to explore ways to apply the sophisticated functions of living things to robots, while addressing ethical problems.