Humanoid Robots Put Skin in the Game

Researchers are mixing humanoid robots with lab-engineered tissue to test medical technology for muscle and tendon grafts.


The current robot craze has mostly produced an army of cyberborgs that look, well, mostly like one would expect robots to look, just in myriad shapes and sizes.

But what about humanoid robots intended to look more real? A pair of biomedical researchers at the University of Oxford is promoting the design of robots with real human skin. Their goal: Not just to similar-to-human looks, but opportunities to advance scientists’ understanding of skin, muscle and tendon grafts, according to an article on

These "skin" robots are able to mimic human movement and any tissue used in their creation develops more or less the same way it would on a human skeleton, thereby providing the researchers with an excellent tool for study. Ultimately, this research could lead to the creation of skin and musculoskeletal tissue grafts, specifically personalized grafts that would be matched to a patient’s needs.

To engineer the tissue used on the robots, the scientists are using bioreactors filled with nutrients and chemicals that grow sheets of cells. This process, especially for muscles and tendons, needs an ability to be stretched and moved, hence the robot to serve as a “humanoid-bioreactor system,” the scientists explained.

(So anyone know what SPF a robot should use?)

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