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Low-cost soft robot muscles can lift 200 times their weight and self-heal

Jan 17, 2019, 4:59 am

Robotics has a great influence on our lives. We use various mechanisms in different spheres such as industry, medicine, etc. Not so long ago, scientists reached the new level in robotics by the invention of strong robot muscles.

Every day scientists work to elaborate new mechanisms and projects. The same situation is in soft robotics. Not so long ago, researchers represented new mechanisms that can repeat the work of people’s muscles. And it was just the beginning. Now they found out new ways to elaborate a soft robotics muscle by using special soft materials. These muscles function more closely to human muscles.

Of course, it was not the simplest task to implement this idea. They faced a lot of hardships such as to elaborate soft elements, which will fit the operation and capacity of the stiff actuators operating mechanic robots. Recently, researchers elaborated the range of cheap synthetic robot muscles. They are rather cheap (not more than $0.10 per item). Basically, they used special plastic bags packed with electrically isolating fluids, which function with the same speed and power as mammalian muscles. However, they act after the energy is applied to them.

Cheap soft robot muscle technology show advantages

After scientists elaborated robotic movement muscles, they demonstrated these new mechanisms to our society. In accordance with modern journals and magazines, these soft robotics muscles are very strong and flexible. Despite the fact that it is cheap, it can pick up two hundred times its own mass and is self-heal. Moreover, they can even pick up rather delicate things (eggs, raspberries, etc.) in a very gentle way.

How do they work?

Actually, the robot muscle technology is not too hard. Soft muscles act after the energy is attached to HydrоgelElectrоdes on both sides of the plastic bag full of electrically isolating fluids. This will cause the connection betwixt the electrоdes dragging them teamwise and removing the liquid. As a result, the form will be changed and it will press/drag grips or any other segmented components.

Design

Speaking about the design of soft robot muscles, it is a combination of two major ways to set in motion robotic muscles. Usually, HydrаulicPneumаtic actuators are not suitable for this mechanism, as they are too potent, unwieldy, and comparatively slow. That is why scientists used dielectric elаstomer actuatоrs. It gives an opportunity to perform the function of biological muscles. Nevertheless, they aren’t very flexible. Moreover, they can be destroyed after you apply the high voltage.

Due to these issues, scientists had to find out another method to actuate soft muscles. Finally, they used Peano-HASEL actuators. It is such an actuator, which consists of several bags connecting in series. They act linearly, and this makes them perform as a real human muscle. One more advantage is that now this soft actuator artificial muscle can pick up two hundred times its weight. Also, when it is electrically powered, it can even outreach the flexing speed of people muscles.

One more advantage is that these robotic movement muscles can instantly self-heal due to the liquid insulator. These soft muscles are able to monitor the voltage that is attached to them to supply similar feedback to biological mechanisms. The volume of the synthetic robot muscle can be changed when the mechanism expands. It gives an opportunity to power the arm and to measure what position it is in.

Nowadays, you can watch many experiments and demonstrations of the soft robotics. The point is that scientists try to elaborate artificial muscles, which will perform as human muscles. Not so long ago, they used pneumatic and hydraulic actuators to actuate the mechanisms. But still, now they use soft materials to make robotic muscles. Moreover, they not just reached the same function and stretching speed but they elaborated more powerful artificial muscles. The new structure helps them to pick up two hundred times their mass and what is more is that these cheap soft robot muscles are self-heal.

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