Disney Research has developed a pressure-sensitive soft skin-like substance that could revolutionize how robots interact with the world. Inspired by their Baymax character who is soft and round, this skin was designed to be gentle and flexible. A team from the research laboratory 3D printed a few mechanical parts with their soft outer skin to conceal the hard plastic components. The idea is that the soft, rubbery exterior will keep the robot and its owner safe while offering pressure-sensitivity to the artificial intelligence.
Once connected to a system, the pressure feedback control allows robots to handle delicate objects. Check out the video below to see a hands-on demonstration where a robot utilizes Disney’s soft skin to pick up a cup and even manipulate a cube of fragile tofu.
This technology is still new so do not expect to see soft, gentle, pressure-sensitive Baymax robots on shelves in Disney stores anytime soon. The research team has a lot of work to do but this is an excellent start. To learn more about this research, I will direct you to Disney’s formal publication that includes technical details for those who would like a more in-depth explanation on the technicalities of how such technology is possible.
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