Robots nowadays are starting to look and act more and more like humans. Recently, scientists have succeeded in creating robot muscles that offer both sensitivity and strength. This is a very important step because from now on, robots might not damage the objects they touch anymore. And this could help greatly when it comes to handling fragile objects and performing delicate tasks. They may, from now on, pick fruit and assist us in our daily lives without any problem.
For years, robots have been used in manufacturing, where rigidity and strength were mandatory. However, this didn’t make them fit for more human-like tasks and even made them dangerous to some degree. Now, experts are trying to create versions of them which might someday assist humans and even help them, in the case of a prosthesis.
The invention of softer robots
A team of researchers led by physicist Christoph Keplinger, has managed to create soft actuators that resemble muscles and that use electricity to control the movement of certain liquids inside some small pouches. This is actually a rather simple concept. These small pouches are filled with insulating liquid like canola oil, for example. Two electrodes are on both sides of the pouches too. When a voltage is applied, the electrodes are squeezing the liquid because they are drawn together. This causes the liquid to flow to nearby areas.
According to Keplinger, his team has created three such designs of soft muscle. They supposedly have the precision of a mammalian muscles which normally stands on a skeleton. The team even showed that their muscles had the ability to gently pick up and hold a raspberry. They also created two other types of muscle, which act like a human bicep. This allows them to lift more than their own weight and do it rapidly. But they do not plan on stopping here especially because the materials they need are easy to find and cheap.
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