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Artificial muscles inspired by the Japanese folding technique of origami could give robots the power to lift up to 1,000 times their own weight.
US researchers have crafted a cheap new material that will let the machines carry out smoother, less rigid, and more human-like movements.
Advance - Forward - Field - Robotics - Generations
The advance offers a leap forward in the field of soft robotics, which are fast replacing older generations of automatons.
The breakthrough was made by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Muscles - Actuators - Framework - Metal - Coils
The muscles, known as actuators, are built on a framework of metal coils or plastic sheets, and each muscle costs around $1 (75p) to make.
Their origami inspiration derives from a zig-zag structure that some of the muscles use, allowing them to contract and expand as commanded, using vacuum-powered air or water pressure.
Skeleton - Spring - Structure - Structure - Voids
The skeleton can be a spring, an origami-like folded structure, or any solid structure with hinged or elastic voids and the structural geometry determines the muscle’s motion.
'It's like giving these robots superpowers,' said senior author Daniela Rus, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Uses - Space - Habitats - Mars - Miniature
Possible uses include expandable space habitats on Mars, miniature surgical devices, wearable robotic exoskeletons, deep-sea exploration devices or even transformable architecture.
'Artificial muscle-like actuators are one of the most important grand challenges in all of engineering,' said co-author...
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