Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee and his team from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, have created an ultra responsive and robust artificial nervous system. This nervous system can be paired with any kind of sensor skin layers to function effectively as an electronic skin. The system known as “ACES” detects signals like the human sensory nervous system, using a network of sensors connected by a single electrical conductor, unlike the nerve bundles in the human skin.
An advantage to the ACES system is that it’s more than a 1,000 times faster than the human sensory nervous system. Electronic skin based on the ACES’s system is also able to identify the shape, texture and hardness of objects 10x faster than the blink of an eye. Another key advantage to this system is that it’s very resilient to physical damage. Previous systems had interconnected sensors, where as, the ACES system has all the sensors connected to a common electrical conductor with each sensor operating independently. This allows ACES enabled electronic skins to continue functioning as long as there is one connection between the sensor and the conductor.
This innovation could one day allow robots to perform disaster recovery tasks or take over mundane operations such as packing of items in warehouses. When it comes to disabled individuals, ACES can help develop realistic prosthetic limbs that can restore the sense of touch.