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By 28 November 2017 | Categories: news

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The field of soft robotics has just been given a major boost thanks to a new type of artificial muscle created by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Harvard’s Wyss Institute. According to TechCrunch, this new muscle was inspired by the art of origami and can lift up to 1000 times its weight – a bit like a man lifting a nine ton truck.

Soft robots are made of compliant materials and are used in situations where robots made of metal will not suffice, often in cases such as working with humans or other delicate objects. One of the problems up to now, was providing soft robots with enough muscle power to assist in certain tasks. This new muscle can certainly do that, plus it can be made in 10 minutes and is less than a dollar in cost.

To truly understand how this muscle works, it’s worthwhile to watch the video below. What basically happens is that a bag is constructed with many chambers, which is then filled with water. Once the fluid is removed, the muscle kicks in motion due to contraction and performs the desired effect. Mess around with the way the different chambers are put together and you can make the muscle act in very specific ways, basically programming it for certain tasks. For example, these can delicately grip a banana on its stem, twists around objects, or simply lift them as illustrated by a three gram artificial muscle raising a 3 kg weight.

The researchers believe that this new muscle technology can be used in devices for medical assistance, space exploration, industrial robotics as well as wearable exoskeletons.

PHOTO: MIT CSAIL

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