Wonderful Engineering

These Robots Can Expand Or Contract Muscles Just Like Human Beings

If your concept of the robot is that it should look like a human, then you ought to push the image of the one built from servos and pneumatic pistons out of your mind. Although this makes the robot strong and fast, it also makes them bulky and heavy, unlike humans. To eventually create humanoid robots like the Terminator, we need to design it like humans by mechanically replicating every part of the human anatomy; the 206 bones and the 640 muscles.

Do you remember the 2005 Hollywood movie “I, Robot” that featured NS5 (Sonny) robots and Will Smith? They used black muscle-like material that was connected to their bodies to stimulate movement.

Credits: Google Images

Well, researchers at the Suzumori Endo Robotics Laboratory at the Tokyo Institute of Technology started with an artificial human skeleton that was then covered in bundles of multifilament artificial muscles. Like real humans’ muscles, the multifilament bundles contract and expand when an electrical current is applied. By controlling different bundles of these muscles at different times, the skeleton’s arms, legs, and head can be moved.

The result is a bizarre and bony skinless humanoid that can almost move like a real human. The test unit’s legs are said to have the same number and pattern of muscle filaments as the human body. However, the unit is still too weak to carry its weight. Although the researchers are able to move the limbs, they are still quite slow and clumsy as compared to the biological versions that inspired them, resulting in balance issues at this stage.

Credits: gizmodo.com

The robot uses its muscled jaw (albeit muscled with a cross bite) to explain for itself. It’s no walking Atlas robot, but it can chew a cheesy poof with artificial muscles.

Credits: inverse.com

Apart from their massive applications in the field of robotics, artificial muscle filaments may also be used to improve prosthetic technology to produce a more accurate replica of a lost appendage. Also, the technology will be improved so that Skynet can eventually progress for infiltrating and wiping out humanity using an army of Arnold Schwarzeneggers (Terminators).