Boston Robotics And 3D Printable Muscles
If you’ve ever looked on YouTube for footage of robots made by Boston Dynamics, you’ll know that the company’s creations are truly incredible. One of its humanoid robots, the Atlas, can even do a back flip!
Boston Dymanics was founded in 1992 as a “spin off” from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And now MIT has come up with more impressive innovations. It has created artificial muscles that allow a robot to lift 1,000 times its own weight.
In this blog from our SEO company Manchester, we’ll look at the creation of these muscles, as well as other developments in the field of soft robotics.
What Is Soft Robotics?
As the name implies, “soft robotics” is about making robots smoother and stronger, with muscles that don’t have jerky movements. Many older generation humanoid robots are not exactly graceful in the way they walk, for instance. So there’s definitely a need for soft robotics.
MIT’s latest muscles are known as actuators, and here at our SEO company Manchester we notice they’ve been explained in a special report published in the peer-reviewed US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
How Do These Muscles Work?
The actuators are inspired by origami, the ancient Japanese art of folding paper into shapes. So, when they’re lying flat on a table, the muscles look like long rectangular boxes folded into zig-zags. They expand using air or water pressure, but they mimic real-life human muscle in the way they work.
And they’re cheap – with each muscle costing only US $1 to make, which is hugely beneficial, in the opinion of our SEO company Manchester. Internally, the actuators are constructed onto a framework of plastic sheets or metal coils.
This kind of technology could also be utilised in other innovative areas, including miniature surgical devices, wearable exoskeletons or even habitats on distant planets, such as Mars, according to the report.
MIT Isn’t Alone
Here at our web design company Manchester we feel it’s important to mention that MIT isn’t the only one to be making great leaps forward in soft robotics and the creation of muscles.
Notably, mechanical engineers from Columbia University have created a synthetic soft muscle that promises the following benefits: it is relatively simple and cheap to make and it’s three times stronger than human muscle.
Based on natural muscle, it’s made from silicone rubber and contains micro-bubbles of ethanol. As a result, this muscle material has impressive elasticity.
Another big selling point is that this particular muscle can be created from a 3D printer, which can print out a muscle into whatever shape is required. Then the muscle is brought to “life” with thin resistive wires that are embedded into it.
The advantages of the Columbia University innovations are clear when you consider that many robots are powered by pneumatic or hydraulic systems. The latter machines have their movements controlled by liquids or gasses, which fill and empty components. But they require large parts, such as compressors, which are hard to reduce in size.
So these innovations in new actuators and muscles are essential for creating the next generation of robots that will be slicker and more powerful in every way.