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Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering have demonstrated that a specially designed robot can outperform humans in identifying a wide range of natural materials according to their textures - paving the way for advancements in prostheses, personal assistive robots, and consumer product testing. The robot was equipped with a new type of tactile sensor built to mimic the human fingertip. It also used a newly designed algorithm to make decisions about how to explore the outside world by imitating human strategies.