Artificial skin from Technical University of Munich uses an event-based processing system to accurately perceive its surroundings.


  • Sensitive
  • Reduced energy usage


  • Medical treatment
  • Medical implants
  • Robotics

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Since the early days of the robotics field, developing artificial skin technology has been an area of interest. Effective robotic skin would grant robots a sense of touch similar to that of humans, enabling them to be physically interactive and ensuring that they are safe to be around humans. However, human skin has approximately five million touch receptors. Due to physical size limitations and insufficient information processing capabilities, so far robotic skin cannot contain the density of sensors that would be needed to match the sensitivity of human skin.

Innovation Details

The artificial skin consists of 1-inch diameter hexagonal cells that are each wrapped with a microprocessor and sensor. The sensors detect contact, acceleration, proximity, and temperature, which the ‘skin’ then processes through an event-based system. Essentially, the individual cells only transmit information when values change, reducing processing effort by up to 90%. This event-based system is the key to efficient robotic skin, enabling sensors to process greater amounts of information faster within a compact organization. Robots with this skin are autonomous, meaning they are not dependent on any external computation.

Biomimicry Story

Human skin senses texture, temperature, and pressure in the surrounding environment partly through mechanoreceptors, specialized nerve cells that project into the outer layers of the skin. These receptors are stimulated by a physical change in the environment, such as the movement of the skin along a surface or material. When a change is detected, mechanoreceptors transmit tactile information to the brain.