AI News, An artificial nerve system gives prosthetic devices and robots a sense of touch

An artificial nerve system gives prosthetic devices and robots a sense of touch

The work, reported May 31 in Science, is a step toward creating artificial skin for prosthetic limbs, to restore sensation to amputees and, perhaps, one day give robots some type of reflex capability.

Building blocks This milestone is part of Bao's quest to mimic how skin can stretch, repair itself and, most remarkably, act like a smart sensory network that knows not only how to transmit pleasant sensations to the brain, but also when to order the muscles to react reflexively to make prompt decisions.

The synaptic network recognizes the pattern of the sudden stretch and emits two signals simultaneously, one causing the knee muscles to contract reflexively and a second, less urgent signal to register the sensation in the brain.

But in the Science paper, the group describes how the electronic neuron delivered signals to the synaptic transistor, which was engineered in such a way that it learned to recognize and react to sensory inputs based on the intensity and frequency of low-power signals, just like a biological synapse.

The electronic neuron converted the sensor signal into digital signals and relayed them through the synaptic transistor, causing the leg to twitch more or less vigorously as the pressure on the touch sensor increased or decreased.

For instance, creating artificial skin coverings for prosthetic devices will require new devices to detect heat and other sensations, the ability to embed them into flexible circuits and then a way to interface all of this to the brain.

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