Japanese scientists at Osaka University have created a child robot who can feel pain. According to the researchers, this can help robots understand and sympathize with humans.
Scientists have developed a synthetic skin that contains sensors to subtly detect changes in pressure, be it a light touch or a strong punch. This artificial "nervous system of pain" was connected to a realistic android robot child that reacts to sensations using a variety of facial expressions.
Called Affetto, the robot child was unveiled by Osaka University in 2011. At the time, it was just a realistic head that made a variety of expressions, such as smiling and frowning. This was possible through a soft, skin-like material that covered the robot and moved using 116 different facial points.
According to IFLScience, this latest project gave the robot child a complete body, with artificial skeleton with skin and covered by the new tactile sensor.
According to the theory, these robots will be able to communicate with human beings in a more authentic and effective way if they give the impression that they feel like us. However, in statements to the Science NewsAntonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, pointed out that "it is not the same thing".
The ultimate goal is to create more realistic “social” robots, capable of interacting more deeply with human beings.
This is not as far as it seems. Japan already has robots in nursing homes, offices and schools as a way of dealing with an aging population and a shrinking workforce. Some US states are also experimenting with using Robocops – police robots – to patrol the streets.