New Soft Robotics to Show High Intrinsic Expansion-Contraction Ability

Published By : 20 Sep 2017 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

The development of better soft material robotics is crucial to applications of robots in areas covering human contact and interactions, such as in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. For long, the development of untethered soft robotic arms to mimic our biological systems in action and movement has largely been constrained by design considerations. Researchers at Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University used a 3D-printable synthetic soft muscle to create electrically actuated muscles in soft robots. The self-contained actuator engineered is three times stronger than human muscles and has a markedly high strain and stress, which was not previously possible in soft robotics.

A key advancement in soft robotics muscles they have developed is that these do not require any external compressor or need to power by high-voltage equipment, thereby facilitating miniaturization of robots. The findings are elaborated in the study published in Nature Communications on September, 2017.

Silicon Rubber Matrix Imparts Amazing Tensile Strength

The team of researchers carried out this study at Creative Machines Lab, Columbia University. The lead researcher used a matrix made of silicon rubber with ethanol and combined them with other materials to impart high tensile strength, while allowing for an easy fabrication. The artificial muscle printed using 3D printing technology was electrically activated using only a thin resistive embedded wire and powered with low voltage.  

The soft material tested in several robotic applications exhibited amazing expansion-contraction capability, the closest to that of human muscles, claimed researchers. Further, they established the soft robotics could well perform a variety of motion tasks in different alignments.  

Further research will focus on using conductive materials to replace the embedded wire so as to significantly increase response time while prolonging shelf-life. 

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