Researchers are one step closer to creating humanoid robots. A team from Columbia University (USA) created for them muscles that are as close to the present as possible.
This is not the first time that robots are given real human abilities. For example, they have already acquired a “skin” that is sensitive to heat and has a tactile memory . If desired, it can even be supplied with hair-like sensors and optical nerves .
Now the turn of artificial muscles has come. The research team led by Professor Hod Lipson ( Hod Lipson ) presented synthetic soft muscles, printed on a 3D printer. This is the only artificial artificial tissue of its kind, which has the capacity for internal expansion.
Previously, engineers could not achieve such an effect that the material functions as a soft muscle. Existing technologies are usually based on pneumatic or hydraulic influences, in which elastomeric fabrics have tiny bubbles and expand under air or liquid supply conditions (when the bubbles are filled and emptied).
For such technologies, external compressors and pressure regulation equipment are needed. And this means that one could only dream of miniature robots that can move and work independently.
In this case, to create artificial muscles, the leading author of the work Aslan Miriyev ( Aslan Miriyev ) used silicone rubber and distributed microbubbles of ethanol throughout the material. All materials are cheap and environmentally safe, and fabrics are easy to manufacture and very elastic, scientists explain.
The material is printed on the 3D printer immediately in the desired form, and then driven by a resistive wire, through which a small voltage is applied (only 8 volts).
The new muscles have already been tested, “intermarried” with several different robotic devices. Tests have shown that with electrical heating up to 80 degrees Celsius, the material can expand by 900%. In this case, such a muscle is capable of lifting objects that weigh a thousand times more than it itself.
By the way, the new material is suitable for devices of almost any design, experts add.
“We have made great strides in the creation of robots, but they are still primitive.” Like in biology, there are a thousand ways to form and change a new power drive (what drives them – prim.red.) For them. , we strive to create the most realistic robots.Our soft functional material can push, pull, bend, twist and lift items, “- says Lipson.
In his opinion, humanoid robots, on the creation of which engineers inspire living organisms, are the most promising for a wide variety of applications. They will be able to interact with people in production and health care . The main advantage of this technique is the ability to work with fragile objects . Unlike hard robots, their soft brethren can copy the natural movement of capture and manipulation.
A more detailed description of the development is contained in an article that was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Let’s add that earlier we talked about how mollusks “presented” their muscles to tiny printed robots.