A research team from Columbia Engineering’s Creative Machines lab developed a synthetic soft muscle that has a strain density 15 times larger than natural muscle and can lift 1,000 times its own weight that could propel soft robotics creation forward.
According to the study “Soft Material for Soft Actuators” published in Nature Communications, the material solves an ongoing challenge in creating lifelike soft robots because it doesn’t require an external compressor or high voltage equipment to expand. To achieve the desired high actuation stress and high strain properties, previous muscles relied on the external signal generators, which couldn’t be miniaturized to create robots that move or work independently.
“We’ve been making great strides toward making robots minds, but robot bodies are still primitive,” professor of mechanical engineering and lab lead Hod Lipson said in a press release. “This is a big piece of the puzzle and, like biology, the new actuator can be shaped and reshaped a thousand ways. We’ve overcome one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots.”