Scientists have developed a new type of artificial muscle that is softer and does not rely on external equipment. According to reports, this new, 3D printed invention can lift up to 1,000 its own weight or three times as more as a natural muscle. It also boasts of a strain density or expansion per gram fifteen times higher than that of this latter.
This Latest Soft Artificial Muscle, Another Step Towards Lifelike Robots
Columbia University School Of Engineering and Applied Science researchers are behind this latest technology. Their artificial muscle is composed of a silicone rubber matrix, one that is peppered with ethanol microbubbles.
The material gets electrically actuated through the use of a low-power charge that is administered via a small, resistive wire. This new type of synthetic muscle also doesn’t require external compressors or equipment.
Generally, this latter help regulate pressure in hydraulic or pneumatic inflation. However, such components take up a lot of space. They are also a hurdle in the design of smaller or autonomous machines.
Hod Lipson, the mechanical engineering professor and study lead points out that science has been making “great strides” in the development of robotic minds. However, he also underlines the fact that robot bodies are still fairly “primitive”.
“This is a big piece of the puzzle and, like biology, the new actuator can be shaped and reshaped a thousand ways. We’ve overcome one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots,” continued Lipson.
The newly created soft artificial muscle could be a step forward and a significant component in the field of soft material robotics. This segment has been reporting significant advancements and breakthroughs. However, there are still ‘plenty’ of movements which rigid robots are still unable to replicate.
Grasping and manipulation are considered actions that require a certain level of finesse. Thanks to the new synthetic muscle, robots might soon have a gentler touch when picking up things, one that does not damage them.
Such machines might come to be of assistance in medical context, for example, state researchers. The artificial muscle might also come to be considered useful elements in next-generation prosthetics, point out scientists.
A study paper was released in the journal Nature Communications.
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