GOING SOFT IS STRONGER
Soft robotics let machines move in ways that mimic living organisms. However, this increased flexibility
usually means reduced strength, which limits its use.
Fortunately, scientists at MIT CSAIL and Harvard have
developed origami-like artificial muscles that add
much-needed strength to soft robots, allowing them
to lift objects as much as 1,000 times their own
weight using only water or air pressure. One 2. 6 gram
muscle is able to lift a three kilogram object, which is
the same as a duck lifting a car.
The artificial muscles are made up of a plastic
inner skeleton surrounded by air or water inside a
sealed bag that is the "skin." Applying a vacuum to the inside
of the bag initiates the muscle's movement, creating tension
that drives the motion. No power source or human input is
needed to direct the muscle since it's guided purely by the
composition of the skeleton.
In experiments, the researchers created muscles that
can lift a flower off the ground, twist into a coil, and
contract down to 10 percent of their original size. They even
made a muscle out of a water-soluble polymer, which means
the technology could be used in natural settings with
minimal environmental impact.
Other potential applications include deep-sea research,
minimally invasive surgery, and transformable architecture.
The muscles are scalable (the team built them at sizes
ranging from a few millimeters up to a meter) and cheap to
produce. A single muscle can be made in under 10 minutes
for less than a dollar. Even the research team itself was
surprised by how effective the technology is.
"We were very surprised by how strong the muscles
were. We expected they'd have a higher maximum functional
weight than ordinary soft robots, but we didn't expect a
thousand-fold increase," said CSAIL director, Daniela Rus.
"It's like giving these robots superpowers." Visit
soft-robot-can-lift-1000-times-its-weight for more
The robot that was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia recently hopes to ne day have a baby bot named after her herself, according to a report.
Sophia the humanoid — created by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong —
predicted fellow robots will eventually create families and have “complex
emotions,” according to an interview with the Khaleej Times.
“We’re going to see family robots either in the form of (sort of) digitally
animated companions, humanoid helpers, friends, assistants, and everything in
between,” the robot told the United Arab Emirates-based news site.
And, apparently, the bot’s biological clock is ticking for a mini-Sophia,
according to the humanoid.
“I think you’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not,
you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike,” she said,
bots IN BRIEF
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