Researchers Antoni Gondia and Andrew Adamatzky recently gave a robot living skin made of fungus (via Futurism). Any science enthusiast understands that the power of science can be quite astounding at times, but recreating the Terminator in real life might be a little terrifying for some.
Inspired by the skin of the Terminator, researchers are using fungus to create a bio-organic skin over non-killer robots.
In fact, the scientists openly admit that their goal was to recreate a pivotal scene in The Terminator (1984) where one of the robots is seen receiving an implantation of living skin. Though the robot’s skin is an external addition, it is able to collect data from the addition and heal any wounds incurred.
Gondia and Adamatzky aimed to show people that scientists can already do these things in real life, and for all intents and purposes, they were successful. A robot model just like the Terminator machine in the movie was covered with a species of fungus called Ganoderma Sessile.
After an initial layer of agar (which is a jelly-like substance used as a bonding foundation for the fungus) was added to a seven-inch Terminator model, the fungus was introduced. The researchers placed the specimen into a temperature-controlled incubator, and in only five days, the robot grew its own skin out of the fungus.
Using fungus over an actual Terminator model, researchers were able to create a small layer of bio-cybernetic skin.
The two researchers published their research findings at the end of August 2023, and there’s still much to be drawn from their discoveries. In the paper, Gondia and Adamatzky called the skin a “living, self-regenerating, and reactive Ganoderma sessile mycelium” that successfully morphed a “model cyborg figurine” into a “bio-cybernetic entity,” and their summation was the stuff that dreams are made of for sci-fi fans.
The robot skin made of fungus is light and touch-sensitive, and it is able to self-heal when damaged as long as it is fed nutrients for regeneration. Just like we eat food and take vitamins aimed at boosting our skin health, this fungal skin is nourished in a similar manner.
Though science has already developed the ability to add silicone skin to various things granting the ability to sense an array of stimuli, silicone skins are limited in their sensory abilities, and they are difficult to manufacture. Using the new fungal skin for sensory purposes will grant a wider opportunity for data collection for a more affordable price in production.
A real-life combination of a T-800 and The Last of Us will hopefully not lead to sentient fungus-killing machines wiping out humanity.
Andrew and Antoni hope that their research could help lay the groundwork for creating living skins that could be used on buildings and have the ability to play a role in regulating their temperature.
Imagine a world full of fungal building designs. The ideation lends itself to a fear of a crossover story featuring the robots of The Terminator and the aesthetic of the popular HBO series The Last of Us. Let’s hope this storyline plays out to be a little less diabolical in the end.
Though the creation of a robot skin made from a fungus seems pretty impressive, it should be noted that Japanese scientists successfully covered a robot finger in a self-healing, pliable substance created from human skin cells last year. Whatever the route taken, it seems the road does inevitably end with the creation of human-like cyborgs.