Robot device mimics human touch

A device which may pave the way for robotic hands that can replicate the human sense of touch has been unveiled.

US scientists have created a sensor that can "feel" the texture of objects to the same degree of sensitivity as a human fingertip.

The team says the tactile sensor could, in the future, aid minimally invasive surgical techniques by giving surgeons a "touch-sensation".

The research is reported in the journal Science.

"If you look at the current status of these tactile sensors, the frustration has been that the resolution of all these devices is in the range of millimetres," explained Professor Ravi Saraf, an engineer from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, US, and a co-author of the paper.

"Whereas the resolution of a human fingertip is about 40 microns, about half the diameter of a human hair, and this has affected the performance of these devices."