Robots can outthink humans, but can they understand what it is to be human?
Scientists are moving robots along on that continuum by developing robotic skin that helps them gain the sense of touch. Researchers from Munich to Japan to Boston are currently looking into how to give robots tactile sensation and in some cases, feel pain.
The rush to create this technology is in response to the rise in automation. Currently there are about 3 million industrial robots in the world. By 2030, Oxford Economics estimates that robots will displace 20 million human workers worldwide. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for industrial robots is estimated at 9.4% through 2023, according to Allied Market Research.
Expanding a robot’s ability to feel ushers in more practical applications. A sensing robot can discern the texture of a surface and the amount of force on contact. Some robots can also detect temperature changes.