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Artificial Muscles

Robotics

Japanese exoskeleton could help users walk and run, no batteries required

Assistive exoskeletons are a bit like electric bikes – they do indeed give users a power boost, but part of that boost is needed just to move the extra weight along. Japanese researchers at Hiroshima University and Daiya Industry Co., however, have created a minimalist exoskeleton that does away with heavy batteries and motors. Instead, their Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS) harnesses the wearer's own weight.Read More

Materials

Temperature-controlled hydrogel can walk

Scientists have developed a new hydrogel that stretches and contracts just like an artificial muscle. The team created an L-shaped object made out of the hydrogel and immersed it in a water bath. When the water’s temperature was varied, it slowly "walked" forward.Read More

Biology

Scientists create world's first fully-artificial molecular pump

All living organisms – human, animal, or otherwise – continuously move molecules around their cells. It's a crucial mechanism of life, vital for feeding cells the proteins they need to function. And now scientists at Northwestern University have created a machine that mimics this pumping mechanism. Their molecular pump is the world's first such machine developed entirely through chemical engineering in the laboratory, and it could one day power artificial muscles and other molecular machines.Read More

Robotics

Onion cells used to create artificial muscles

Artificial muscles could one day revolutionize fields such as robotics, prosthetics and nanotechnology. So far, we've seen examples made from materials like electroactive elastomers, crumpled graphene, and vanadium dioxide. The problem is, most artificial muscles can only expand in one direction, or contract in the other. Now, however, scientists from National Taiwan University have gotten around that limitation using gold-plated onion cells.

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Robotics

Artificial muscle set for a stretch in space

When the Dragon spacecraft is propelled into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket this week on a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), it will be carrying an artificial muscle material developed by Lenore Rasmussen and her company RasLabs. In addition to better prosthetic devices, it is hoped the material could find applications in robots on deep space missions. Read More

Materials

Shape-memory wire simulates muscle in high-precision artificial hand

Whether they're on robots or amputees, artificial hands tend to be rather complex mechanisms, incorporating numerous motor-driven cables. Engineers from Germany's Saarland University, however, have taken a different approach with their hand. It moves its fingers via shape-memory nickel-titanium alloy wires, bundled together to perform intricate tasks by working like natural muscle fibers.Read More

Robotics

Building a real-life Baymax

The recent animated feature Big Hero 6 is more than a collection of comic book fantasies – there's some hard science behind the soft robots. Baymax, the inflatable robot designed to care for humans who stars in the film may seem as unlikely as a chocolate teapot, but Chris Atkeson, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon is working on a real life version (minus the karate and flying armor). Gizmag caught up with Atkeson to discuss the project.Read More

Robotics

Lifelike robots start work at Tokyo museum

Recent advances in robotics have included machines that can learn by having folks talk to them, or droids capable of reading human emotion. Most still look pretty much like motorized mannequins or variations on the Johnny 5 theme, though. Even advanced humanoid bots like Honda's ASIMO would stand out as distinctly non-human in a police line-up. Such things certainly can't be said of the lifelike (some might even say positively creepy) creations of Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Two of his latest androids have now joined the staff of Tokyo's Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and will act as announcer and science guide for visitors to a new permanent exhibition.Read More

Medical

Fake muscles put new twist on artificial hearts

When you think of a beating heart, you probably just picture it flexing in and out, sort of like a rubber ball being squeezed by an invisible hand. In fact, though, its motion is more similar to that of a dish rag being wrung out, with the top of the organ twisting in a clockwise direction while the bottom contracts counterclockwise. It's known as the left ventricular twist, and scientists have now replicated it using artificial muscles. The research could lead to better-functioning cardiac implants, among other things. Read More

Science

Powerful artificial muscles made from ... fishing line?

Artificial muscles could find use in a wide range of applications, including prosthetic limbs, robotics, exoskeletons, or pretty much any situation in which hydraulics or electric motors just aren't a practical means of moving objects. Scientists have been working on such muscles for a number of years, using materials like vanadium dioxide, graphene, carbon nanotubes and dielectric elastomers. Now, however, some of those same scientists have discovered that very powerful artificial muscles can be made from much more down-to-earth materials – regular polymer fishing line, and metal-coated nylon sewing thread. Read More

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