Stanford’s Zhenan Bao has developed an artificial sensory nerve system that can activate the twitch reflex in a cockroach and identify letters in the Braille alphabet. Bao describes it as “a step toward making skin-like sensory neural networks for all sorts of applications” which would include artificial skin that creates a sense of touch in prosthetics.
The artificial nerve circuit integrates three components:
- A touch sensor that can detect minuscule forces.
- A flexible electronic neuron which receives signals from the touch sensor.
- An artificial synaptic transistor modeled after human synapses which is stimulated by theses sensory signals.
The system was successfully tested to generate both reflexes and a sense touch. The team also hopes to create low-power, artificial sensor nets to cover robots, to provide feedback that makes them more agile.
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