Super strong robots show off artificial muscles

28 November, 2017, 19:09 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • MIT CSAIL

A roboticist and Director at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Daniela L. Rus, who is one of the leading author of the study said in a statement that, "We've been interested in soft robots for a long time because they're safe, because they are compliant and because they can deal with uncertainty".

Daniel Vogt, of the Wyss Institute, said: "Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don't expand when they're operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body".

What do you think about the artificial origami muscles?

In order to defeat the human race and take over the world, robots require dexterity as well as strength.

"We were very surprised by how strong the actuators [aka, "muscles"] were". We expected they'd have a higher maximum functional weight than ordinary soft robots, but we didn't expect a thousand-fold increase. "It's like giving these robots superpowers".

The artificial muscles, inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding more commonly known as origami, are cheap and easy to make, with the creation of soft robots seen as one of their applications. Plastic or textile bag serves as its skin.

The artificial muscle is made to contract and collapse like real muscles by using an electric pump to reduce the pressure inside the sealed bag.

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Most importantly, no other power source is needed to get the muscle moving as it is entirely powered by the shape and composition of the skeleton.

The inspiration of origami comes from the structure in a zigzag pattern used by certain muscles, which allows them to shrink and swell on command, using air or water under pressure. A researcher could understand the motion prior to it without the help of control systems. Embedding function in form allows the muscles to be very compact and simple, compared to their counterparts.

The researchers made artificial muscles made from a wide range of materials, from metal springs or plastic sheets to packing foam. They succeeded to develop muscles which contracted up to 10% of its original size.

The artificial muscles "can generate about six times more force per unit area than mammalian skeletal muscle can, and are also incredibly lightweight", it added.

Even more fantastic is the fact that the artificial muscles can be created in as fast as 10 minutes, using materials that can be bought for less than $1.

Possible uses include expandable space habitats on Mars, miniature surgical devices, wearable robotic exoskeletons, deep-sea exploration devices or even transformable architecture. Scientists have also developed the muscle from water-soluble polymer PVA, which could be used in ingestible robots that would move to target locations in the body to release specialized drugs.

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