Artificial Muscles: A Step Forward in the Creation of Lifelike Robots

How can artificial muscles assist in the prosperity of Robotics?

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An artificial muscle with “origami folds” visible (Source: Shuguang Li / Wyss Institute at Harvard University)

Robots are often imagined as strong, stiff, and hard metal-like creations. But with the advancement of science this concept is going to be changed soon. Scientists have been trying to make robots with soft materials so that they can deal with hard-to-reach places and safely interact with people.

A major breakthrough in the field of soft robotics is the creation of artificial muscles.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have created artificial muscles with remarkable properties.

The artificial muscle system comprises of three fundamental components: a solid skeletal structure, flexible fluid-tight skin, and a fluid medium. The interaction of these three components produce a variety of motion which can be achieved by programming the geometry of the skeleton.

The system uses the origami technique where the skeleton is the origami-like folded structure which can be easily shortened, curled, twisted, or bent into specific shapes when compressed. These structures are folded with the polymer skin which is filled with the fluid. As this fluid is sucked out, the origami structure squeezes together, contorting into the shape determined by its folding pattern.

The ability of artificial muscles to generate powerful, efficient, and programmable multidimensional motion can prove to be very useful in multiple applications, including medical assistance devices, space exploration, deep sea manipulation, industrial robotics and wearable exoskeleton. So, there is a bright and promising future ahead in the field of robotics that could conquer various aspects of the universe ranging from life to space.

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