A new synthetic material that creates a linked sensory network similar to a biological nervous system could enable soft robots to sense how they interact with their environment and adjust their actions accordingly. The stretchable optical lace material was developed by researchers at the Organics Robotics Lab at Cornell University.
The optical lace would not be used as a skin coating for robots, but would be more like the flesh itself. Robots fitted with the material would be better suited for the health care industry and manufacturing. While the optical lace does not have as much sensitivity as a human fingertip, which is jam-packed with nerve receptors, the material is more sensitive to touch than the human back.