Cornell University researchers have started to explore an unusual means of communicating with robots, i.e. adding tactile sensation. In this regard, depending on its mood, a robot has been enabled to produce spikes or goosebumps on its robot skin created by the research team. Efforts of the researchers at the 2018 International Conference on Soft Robotics have been presented in a paper. Previously, human-like emotional expressions were given to robots by scientists. However, if we look at animals, they use their skin to express emotion. On the other hand, humans have a restricted ability to express emotion with their skin.
In the study, the researchers looked to build on this idea as a way to allow robots to interact with humans via touch.
Emotional Robot Skin Allows Robots to Interact with Hearing-impaired People
End result of the research gave birth to a test robot that is able to express itself tactilely with the help of pads on either side of its head and using its eyes. Elastomer skin that covers the pads is manipulated by programming carried out within the head. Two grids of texture units are included in each pad, where one of them forms spikes while the other goosebumps. There is a seamless merger observed between the goosebumps and the base when deflated. However, with a view to avoid them from being felt, the spikes are required to be sucked marginally below the base. To provide pressure, an air pump is controlled by the computer within the head.
A person can place their hands on the robot’s pads to communicate. A range of emotions including happiness, surprise, and anger could be conveyed by the robot after the actions of the bumps are combined to different degrees.