Augmented limbs help those who have lost their arms or legs live a normal life, but they never replace that feeling of the lost extremities. It looks like that will be changing for augmented limbs soon, with more advanced pressure sensors that could lead to these replacement parts actually feeling like the real thing.
More than a feeling
This new research project is hoping to develop augmented limbs that will increase dexterity and motor skills by using highly accurate pressure sensors that provide haptic feedback and distributed touch. The hope is that all of these features will lead to augmented limbs that feel more realistic, hoping to capture the feeling of having a real arm again.
Professor Des Gibson, Director of the Institute of Thin Films, Sensors, and Imaging at UWS and project principal investigator, said: “Over recent years the advancements in the robotics industry have been remarkable, however, due to a lack of sensory capabilities, robotic systems often fail to execute certain tasks easily. For robots to reach their full potential, accurate pressure sensors, capable of providing greater tactile ability, are required.”
According to SciTechDaily, these augmented limbs will be made with 3D graphene foam, which is said to have unique properties that can emulate a more realistic feeling. Marco Caffio, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Integrated Graphene, is hoping that this will lead to the aforementioned augmented limbs.
A long way to go
Despite all of this promise, the reports indicate that it’s going to take a lot of time to make these augmented limbs with more realistic sensors. The project’s next stage will focus on making the aforementioned sensors feeling more, well, realistic. Considering how groundbreaking these materials could be, they should take all the time in the world.
“Gii, our novel 3D graphene foam, has the capability to mimic the sensitivity and feedback of human touch, which could have a transformative impact on how robotics can be used for a whole range of real-world applications from surgery to precision manufacturing,” said Caffio.
Only time will tell if these augmented limbs end up working and benefiting humanity in the long run but we hope that’s the case. We’re all for robotics helping out people, especially if it can make their lives easier again.