ananyo writes "A flexible electronic sensor made from interlocking hairs can detect the gentle steps of a ladybird and distinguish between shear and twisting forces. The sensor consists of two interlocking sheets of nanofibres. When the sensor sheet is pressed, twisted or brushed, the squishy, metal-coated hairs change position, generating changes in the sensor's electrical resistance (abstract). Such subtle tactile input would be very useful for robots designed to interact with people, says Matei Ciocarlie, a scientist at robotics company Willow Garage. 'Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics,' says Ciocarlie, because it poses such a challenging problem: in addition to being robust, sensitive and flexible, it needs to be made in very large sheets."
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