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Miniature Arm With Bundled Muscles
Courtesy: Polina Anikeeva (MIT)
Researchers Have Developed Artificial Muscles That Can Make Bodybuilders Jealous.

Artificial Muscles

These Artificial Muscles Are Able To Lift 1,000 Times Their Own Weight. They Are Stronger And Can Expand 15 Times More Than Natural Muscles. The Strength And Agility Of These Muscles Do Not Diminish Even After Thousands Of Use Cycles, Which Just Goes To Show How Durable The Material Is. It Is Expected That These Muscles Can Be Bundled Together To Create More Powerful Solutions Capable Of Lifting Heavier Loads.

The Artificial Muscle Was Built Around A Core Of Twisted Fibres. These Fibers Are Made Up Of Cheap And Lightweight Materials Such As Bamboo Or Silk That Can Stretch Like A Muscle. The Core Is Then Covered With A Thin Sheath Of Material That Is The Active Part Of The Muscle. This Sheath Can Respond To Heat Or Electrochemical Changes. When Researchers Applied Or Removed Heat, The Muscles Contracted Or Relaxed, Much Like Biological One's Do.

Researchers Hope To Use The Artificial Muscles In Exoskeletons, Robots, Prosthetic Limbs And Even Clothing. Most Advanced Robots Are Machines Made Up Of Rigid Materials Like Metals And Plastics. Soft Robots Exist But They Are Typically Controlled By External Air Compressors And Pumps Used To Inflate Balloon-Like Structures. Some Require Voltages That Are 10 Times Higher Than A Household Electrical Socket To Produce A Current That Simulates Movement And Stretchy Material.

Scientists Are Becoming Increasingly Focused On Designing Robots Using Soft-Materials, That Are More Closely Resembles Biological Systems, Which Can Be More Adaptable And Better Suited To Working In Close Proximity To Humans. But What Happens If Any Of These Muscles “Tear”?

Our Muscles Are Able To Repair Themselves Over Time. Now, Researchers At The University Of Colorado Boulder Have Built An Artificial Muscle That Might Be Able To Heal Itself. The Muscle Called HASEL, Costs As Little As 10 Cents Per Device.

This Artificial Muscle Uses Soft Plastic Pouches Filled With Electrically Insulating Liquids, When Voltage Is Applied The Device Changes Shape. The Oil Inside HASEL Muscles Can Withstand Electricity, Giving The Device Durability And The To Self-Heal.

HASEL Muscles Can Lift More Than 200 Times Their Weight, And Being Electrically Powered, They Exceed The Flexing Speed Of The Human Muscle. HASEL Can Be Used To Carry Out A Variety Of Tasks, From Gently Picking Up Delicate Objects Like Eggs Or Raspberries To Lifting Objects Many Times Their Own Weight, Such As Gallon Of Water, At Rapid Repetition Rates. It Could Also Help In Creating Artificial Human Tissue And Organs. Soft Robots Can Do A Number Of Actions Hard Robots Simply Cannot Perform. They Can Squeeze Through Tight Spaces, They Can Expand And Contract With Ease To Fit A Variety Of Climates; They Can Even Double As A Part Of The Human Body.

Despite The Benefits, Perfecting Soft Robotics Has Been A Struggle For Engineers For Many Years. Yet It Has Seen Progress In Recent Years. A Major Soft Robotics Innovation Was A ‘Muscle’ That Could Help The Human Heart Maintain Proper Rhythm.

This Soft Robotics Sleeve Twists And Squeezes In A Motion Similar To The Way A Heart-Beats. This Opens New Treatment Options For People Suffering From Heart Failure, And The Field Of Soft Robotics And Artificial Muscles Could Revolutionize The Medical Industry As A Whole, As Well As Have Massive Impacts On How Labor Is Performed By Workers.

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