Scientists Have Created Robots With Lab-Grown Human Skin & They Are Freaky!

Scientists Have Created Robots With Lab-Grown Human Skin & They Are Freaky!

In a remarkable breakthrough, a team of scientists has unveiled a robot face covered with a delicate layer of living skin. The skin heals itself and can even crinkle into a smile. It looks quite freaky and strange. This development could be a step towards creating more human-like cyborgs!

The skin, made in a lab at the University of Tokyo, was grown from human skin cells on a collagen model and placed on a 3D-printed resin base. The technology also expects to benefit stroke patients, burn victims, and individuals with paralysis. This remarkable creation was reported by the New Scientist and published in Cell Reports Physical Science. Let’s dive into the details.

Unveiling the Robot with Living Skin

Professor Shoji Takeuchi and his research team at the University of Tokyo are behind this innovative project. They believe that this living skin could be crucial in developing robots that not only heal but also feel like humans. Takeuchi highlighted the potential applications for such robots in fields like healthcare, service, and companionship, where human-like functions are particularly beneficial.

Image source: The Times / Channel Television

The Science Behind the Skin | Creation and Application

To create this skin, the researchers used human skin cells and a collagen model, growing them in a lab setting. They then placed the skin on a 3D-printed resin base, which provided the necessary structure. The detailed findings of this process were published in Cell Reports Physical Science, showcasing the complex methods used to achieve this result.

The scientists mimicked human skin ligaments, which are primarily made of collagen and elastin. These ligaments are tiny connecting tissues that anchor the skin to the underlying structures. By using specially made V-shaped perforations in solid materials, the team found a way to bind the skin to complex structures. This method allowed the skin to move with the mechanical components of the robot without tearing or peeling away.

“The natural flexibility of the skin and the strong method of adhesion mean the skin can move with the mechanical components of the robot without tearing or peeling away.”

Takeuchi explained.
Image source: New York Post

Practical Implications and Potential Uses

The living skin has numerous potential applications, particularly in healthcare. Robots with human-like skin could be used as caregivers, companions, and service providers, offering a more natural interaction experience. Additionally, this technology could benefit stroke patients, burn victims, and individuals with paralysis, providing more natural augmentations. This could even help in animatronics and movies, achieving a lifelike movement that can revolutionize the industry.

Challenges and Future Directions

Despite the promising potential, the research has also revealed new challenges. Takeuchi envisions incorporating sweat glands, sebaceous glands, pores, blood vessels, fat, and nerves into the skin to make it thicker and more realistic.

Another significant challenge is creating humanlike expressions by integrating sophisticated actuators, or muscles, inside the robot. “Of course, movement is also a crucial factor, not just the material,” Takeuchi noted, emphasizing the complexity of the task.

Expert Opinions

Krishna Manaswi Digumarti from the Queensland University of Technology provided an interesting commentary on the study. He praised the innovative approach to attaching soft and rigid materials, drawing inspiration from biological systems. However, he raised questions about the durability of the skin material and its performance over time, wondering if it would wear out after numerous cycles of facial expressions.

“I would have loved to see a test for how many cycles the skin-like material is still attached to the face. Is there any wear and tear at the anchors? Does it peel off after 1000 smiles or can it last a million smiles?”

Digumarti wondered.


This research marks a significant step towards creating robots with human-like skin that can heal and exhibit natural expressions. The potential applications in healthcare, service industries, and entertainment are vast. However, challenges such as creating thicker, more realistic skin and ensuring the durability of the material remain. Future research will focus on these aspects, with the anticipation of more advancements in the next decade.

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