Scientists in Ithaca, New York, have designed robotic skin that could allow robots to change the color of their skin to accurately reflect the mood of the person it's with.
The material has two main features: "It allows robots to change their color, and it also allows displays to change their shape," says Cornell University assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Rob Shepherd.
In addition to being able to change color, the robot skin is also extremely pliable, enabling the creation of undulating robots.
Combined with a robot that's capable of registering emotion, the skin could help endear it to its human compatriots. "Why is that important?" Shepard said. "For one thing, when robots become more and more a part of our lives, the ability for them to have emotional connection with us will be important. So to be able to change their color in response to mood or the tone of the room we believe is going to be important for human-robot interactions."
The study involving the new skin appeared online Thursday in the journal Science.