Scientists Make Whiskers for Robots

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Scientists have developed fake whiskers, which will give robots the sensing power previously known only to cats, rats, and some other animals and insects.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and Osaka Prefecture University in Japan have developed fake whiskers, which could give robots the sensing power previously known only to cats, rats, and some other animals and insects.

The e-whiskers are constructed from carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles, making them both flexible and responsive.

They can also be fairly easily adjusted to perform specific tasks by changing the ratio of silver particles to carbon particles.

Even without being tweaked, the e-whiskers have an impressive capacity for detecting pressure changes, particularly when it comes to airflow.

Their sensitivity has been rated as low as 1 Pascal. A gentle breeze reportedly rates approximately 10 Pascal, so the possibility exists that something as minimal as a gas leak could be picked up by them.

Of course, their potential applications go far beyond that.

One expert suggested that they could be used to build a variety of better robots for both land and sea, as they could aid with moving around and detecting environmental conditions.

The e-whiskers also have something rarely seen in emerging technologies – low production costs.

Further development will include the scientists incorporating them into more complex systems, such as robotic prosthetics.

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