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Scientists create robot face with lab-grown living skin

That’s the face of the future.

A team of scientists has unveiled a robotic face covered in a delicate layer of living skin that can self-heal, wrinkle and smile, in a bid to develop more human-like cyborgs.

The skin was made in a lab at the University of Tokyo from a mixture of human skin cells grown on a collagen model and placed on a 3D-printed resin base, New Scientist magazine reported.

The scientists involved in this project The researchers published their findings Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science. — We believe that living skin could be a key step toward creating robots that can heal and feel human.

The skin was grown in a laboratory at the University of Tokyo. 2024 Takeuchi et al. CC-BY-ND / SWNS

“This living skin will be particularly useful for robots that interact closely with humans, such as medical, service, companion and humanoid robots that require human-like functionality.” Professor Masaharu Takeuchi told The Times of London:.

Lab-grown skin has been attached to a simple, tiny robotic face that can smile, and the tissue can heal itself.

“Skin can repair itself when damaged, just like human skin heals wounds,” Takeuchi explained.

“It is more feasible to integrate sensory capabilities such as touch and temperature detection into living tissue.”

He added that they first grew dermal cells from the skin and then added epidermal cells on top to complete the structure.

The skin has a layer of dermal cells, which are topped by epidermal cells. 2024 Takeuchi et al. CC-BY-ND

The person who attached the skin to the robot’s face was Professor Michio Kawai of Harvard University. He told New Scientist magazine They are known as “drilling anchors” because they drill holes into the resin base, creating small cavities that are filled with tissue.

Takeuchi told The Times of London that the perforations are actually the equivalent of the flexible, strong ligaments found under the skin of humans and animals.

“It creates a smooth and strong bond between the skin and the robot… The skin’s natural flexibility and strong adhesion method allows the skin to move along with the robot’s mechanical parts without tearing or peeling off,” he noted.

Although lab-grown skin still doesn’t closely resemble real human skin, Takeuchi said the latest research is still very important.

“New challenges emerged, such as the need for surface wrinkles and a thicker cuticle to achieve a more human-like appearance,” he said.

The skin heals itself and moves to create a smile. 2024 Takeuchi et al. CC-BY-ND / SWNS

“By incorporating sweat glands, sebaceous glands, pores, blood vessels, fat and nerves, we believe we can create thicker, more realistic skin.”

The skin’s capabilities also have surprising implications for the cosmetics industry, Kawai told New Scientist.

The scientists trained the robot to laugh for a month and found that the tissue replicated the appearance of expression wrinkles in the skin.

The skin tissue attaches to the robot using a system that mimics human ligaments. 2024 Takeuchi et al. CC-BY-ND / SWNS

“The ability to recreate wrinkle formation on a palm-sized lab chip could also be used to test new cosmetic and skin care products aimed at preventing, delaying or improving wrinkle formation,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the experts are back in the lab.

“It may take up to 10 years of research and development before living skin can be used by robots that interact with humans on a daily basis,” Takeuchi said.

“But we are making progress, and with continued efforts, this vision could become a reality within the next decade.”