Synthetic skin to make robotic clones of man

Synthetic skin to make robotic clones of man

Synthetic skin to make robotic clones of man

 Researchers have claimed success in developing synthetic skin for robotic clone of humans, which resembles real people.

Researchers at Disney Research, Zurich, and Walt Disney Imagineering R&D have developed a new computational design process for cloning human faces that could greatly simplify the creation of synthetic skin for animatronic characters.

Animatronics are machines which seem animate rather than robotic. The figure is designed with exact dimensions and proportions of a living creature. It is mainly used in movie making, theme parks and other forms of entertainment.

The Zurich researchers have invented a computational method for automatically designing synthetic skin to match real individuals.

“With our method, we can simply create a robotic clone of a real person,” researcher at Disney Research, Zurich Dr Bernd Bickel said.

The process starts by scanning 3D facial expressions from a human subject. Then, a novel optimisation scheme determines the shape of the synthetic skin as well as control parameters for the robotic head that provide the best match to the human subject.
This processing increases the realism of the resulting character, resulting in an animatronic face that closely resembles the human subject. Animatronics aims at creating physical robots that move and look like real humans.

“The custom digitally designed skin can be fabricated using injection molding and modern rapid prototyping technology. We 3D print a mold and use elastic silicon with properties similar to human skin as base material,” Bickel added.

“This innovative research builds upon our heritage in ‘Audio-Animatronics’ pioneered by Walt Disney himself. Physical face cloning enables us to create personalised animatronic figures based on real individuals with a level of fidelity and realism never before possible,” director of Disney Research, prof Markus Gross said.

Their findings were presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2012, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.

Earlier, creating animatronic copies of real human individuals was difficult and a labour-intensive process requiring the manual work of skilled animators, material designers and mechanical engineers.