3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours

3D-printable, synthetic soft muscles that can mimic natural biological systems can lift 1000 times their own weight, thanks to boffins at the Columbia Engineering Creative Machines lab. And yes, these artificial muscles are three times stronger than natural muscles.


((L) The electrically actuated muscle with thin resistive wire in a rest position;
(R) The muscle is expanded using only a low voltage (8V).
Credit: Aslan Miriyev/Columbia Engineering)

Existing soft-actuator technologies are typically based on bulky pneumatic or hydraulic inflation of elastomer skins that expand when air or liquid is supplied to them, which require external compressors and pressure-regulating equipment.

“We’ve been making great strides toward making robot minds, but robot bodies are still primitive,” said Hod Lipson, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering. “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.”

Science fiction authors find uses for the idea of artificial muscles; Martin Caidin makes good use of artificial muscles in his 1972 novel Cyborg and you'll enjoy the eerie steampunk description of Quasi-Muscles (Sham Musculature) in H.G. Wells' 1898 blockbuster War of the Worlds.

Science fiction movie buffs also remember the upper body musculature of the NS-5 robots from the 2004 film I, Robot, taken from the Isaac Asimov short story.


(Upper body 'musculature' NS-5 Robot from I, Robot movie)

Technovelgy readers have been following Hod Lipson and his group of intrepid roboticists for quite some time:

Via Scientists remove one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots.

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