Robotic Muscle Created to Work Just Like the Human One

It is starting to become very obvious that robots will play an important part in our future. While the first robot already received a citizenship, there is a long way until robots will be able to match human abilities. Nevertheless, it appears that they are almost there.

Recently, new papers published in Science and Science Robotics offered some new details about a type of robotic “muscle” that should be just as powerful as the human one, pulling off more contractions per second as well.

A new class of robotic muscle

The new variety of muscle is named “hasel” as an abbreviate for “hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic”. They are oil-fueled and can be activated with electricity. “We’re just using these electrostatic forces to displace the fluid, to bring these electrodes together to pump the fluid to a different part of the pouch,” explained the lead author of the Science Robotics paper, Nicholas Kellaris, who is a mechanical engineer from the Keplinger research group at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The hasel actuators

The hasel actuators are incredibly important since this component is the one that leverages the oil. The scientists experimented with many shapes. For example they used circular hasel actuators. “In this case we apply electric field over one part of the actuator and that pushed liquid out to what you would call the inactive region,” said Eric Acome, a mechanical engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Since electricity can be quite rough with the actuators, oil is needed to act like some sort of shield. “It would just pass through the liquid and then moments later that liquid redistributes, becomes insulating again, and the device can continue to operate,” explained Tim Morrissey from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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