German researchers are working on an artificial nervous system whose target is to teach robots how to feel pain.
This system is expected to keep people working alongside with robots safe. It will also let the robots make a quick response to a threat to their system.
Scientists have plans of developing the system basing on research done on human pain.
To test it, they fitted a robotic arm with a fingertip sensor that could detect pressure and temperature.
Leibniz University researchers in Hannover have a target of coming up with a robot that can “be able to detect and classify unforeseen physical states and disturbances, rate the potential damage they may cause to it and initiate appropriate countermeasures, i.e. reflexes”, they explained.
Just the same way neurons in humans transmit pain, the artificial neurons will also be able to transmit information that can be categorized as light, moderate or severe pain.
“Pain is a system that protects us. When we move away from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt,” said researcher Johannes Kuehn.
Cambridge University experts agree that it is important to teach robots how to feel pain.
“Getting robots to learn is one of the most challenging things but is fundamental because it will make them more intelligent,” he said.
“Learning is all about trial and error. When a child learns that falling over causes pain, it then learns to do it with more skill.”