“I think living skin is the ultimate solution to give robots the look and touch of living creatures since it is exactly the same material that covers animal bodies,” Shoji Takeuchi, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said in a statement. Not only does this material resemble and feel like human skin, but the new study’s team says that because it’s made of real skin cells, it also can self-heal and is water repellant. Attached to a robot, this sort of skin sheet can therefore repair its own cuts and scrapes, like normal human skin can. However, though Takeuchi said the team is “surprised by how well the skin tissue conforms to the robot’s surface,” the researcher adds the caveat that “this work is just the first step toward creating robots covered with living skin.” The newly developed robot skin still isn’t quite as strong as natural skin and needs external help sustaining itself. Further down the line, the research team also intends to add hair follicles, nails and formal sweat glands to make the sheet more lifelike. Nonetheless, Takeuchi remains focused on the main motivation to construct such humanlike robot skin. It’s that the silicone skin presently employed while building artificial beings just can’t mimic human appearance. Yet, to improve likability and kinship with bots, we need to get them as close to human as possible. It’s a conundrum that requires breaking out of the norm and innovating in a different direction.