Home AI News Revolutionizing Soft Robotics and Medical Applications: Groundbreaking Advancements in Bionics

Revolutionizing Soft Robotics and Medical Applications: Groundbreaking Advancements in Bionics

Revolutionizing Soft Robotics and Medical Applications: Groundbreaking Advancements in Bionics

Innovative Electric Variable-Stiffness Artificial Muscle Breaks New Ground in Bionics

A groundbreaking advancement in bionics has been made by researchers from Queen Mary University of London. They have developed an electric variable-stiffness artificial muscle that possesses self-sensing capabilities. Published in Advanced Intelligent Systems, this innovative technology has the potential to revolutionize soft robotics and medical applications.

The Significance of Variable-Stiffness Artificial Muscle

Muscle contraction hardening is crucial for improving strength and enabling rapid reactions in living organisms. Taking inspiration from nature, the team at Queen Mary University’s School of Engineering and Materials Science has successfully created an artificial muscle that seamlessly transitions between soft and hard states. This remarkable muscle also has the ability to sense forces and deformations.

Flexible and Stretchable

The developed artificial muscle exhibits flexibility and stretchability similar to natural muscle. This feature makes it suitable for integration into intricate soft robotic systems and allows it to adapt to various shapes. Its exceptional durability is demonstrated by its ability to withstand over 200% stretch along the length direction.

Simple and Reliable Fabrication Process

The fabrication process for this self-sensing artificial muscle is simple and reliable. Carbon nanotubes are mixed with liquid silicone using ultrasonic dispersion technology. The mixture is then coated uniformly using a film applicator to create the thin layered cathode, which also serves as the sensing part of the artificial muscle. The anode is made directly using a soft metal mesh cut, and the actuation layer is sandwiched between the cathode and the anode. After the liquid materials cure, a complete self-sensing variable-stiffness artificial muscle is formed.

The potential applications of this flexible variable stiffness technology are vast, from soft robotics to medical applications. By integrating the self-sensing artificial muscle into wearable robotic devices, it becomes possible to monitor a patient’s activities and provide resistance by adjusting stiffness levels. This facilitates the restoration of muscle function during rehabilitation training and offers assistance to individuals with disabilities or patients in performing essential daily tasks.

Even though there are still challenges to be addressed before deploying these medical robots in clinical settings, this research represents a crucial stride towards human-machine integration. Dr. Ketao Zhang, the lead researcher, highlights that it provides a blueprint for the future development of soft and wearable robots.

This groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University of London is a significant milestone in the field of bionics. With their development of self-sensing electric artificial muscles, they have laid the foundation for advancements in soft robotics and medical applications.

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