A new breed of muscle-powered robots can walk on command
Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign
Robots can be very strong, fast and enduring. However, unlike in animals, none of this strength comes from muscle, instead robots mainly rely on electrical motors and other hard and generally inflexible parts. But with all the advantages that conventional robot hardware can deliver, it still does not match the ability of muscle-powered animals to provide an accurate response to different physical environments. To address this downside of robotics, a group of researchers, led by Professor Rashid Bashir, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign developed tiny walking bio-robots powered by engineered muscle tissue.
Squids, snails and other invertebrates can do things that animals with hard skeletons can’t. For example they can squeeze through small cracks and move across rough terrain. Likewise, soft-bodied robots have some important advantages over traditional rigid ones. The video above displays a soft robot developed by George M. Whitesides and his team at Harvard University. Continue reading →