My Creepy Little Pony: These Wearable Electronic Skins Turn The Stuffed Animals Of Your Childhood Into Walking Robots

Thursday, 20 September 2018 - 12:29PM
Robotics
Thursday, 20 September 2018 - 12:29PM
My Creepy Little Pony: These Wearable Electronic Skins Turn The Stuffed Animals Of Your Childhood Into Walking Robots
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Composite: YouTube/Pixabay
As kids, we all wished that our toys and stuffed animals would come alive and walk around like in Toy StoryA.I.: Artificial Intelligence, or even Akira. ...Okay, maybe not Akira, but definitely like the other two. In a recent paper published in the journal Science Robotics, a team of researchers at Yale University outlined a newly-developed technology called OmniSkins, which are robotic skins that can be wrapped around toys or other inert objects to give them the ability to move as if they were built with complex internal mechanics. The demonstrations of the technology look so fun and cool, but it's the possibilities for the future of wearables that is probably the most exciting.

The project was reported born out of a call from NASA for the development of multipurpose robotic materials. "We can take the skins and wrap them around one object to perform a task – locomotion, for example – and then take them off and put them on a different object to perform a different task, such as grasping and moving an object," lead researcher Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio said. The skins are made of actuators and sensors, which are covered with sheets of an elastic material that feature snaps so that the skins can be securely attached to the legs of a stuffed horse, foam tubes, or a variety of other soft objects. By combining skins in different configurations, the researchers were able to get objects to perform more complex movements like snaking patterns and more controlled maneuvers. "Just like you would wrap a robotic skin around an object, you can also wrap it around yourself," Kramer-Bottilgio added. In the video below, the wearable skins are shown signaling a wearer to correct his posture. It's sort of like that recent sci-fi film Upgrade where a computer chip is installed in Logan Marshall-Green to control his body and nerves (only much less violent and intrusive).

Check out the video below:

Science
Technology
Robotics