Soft robots use artificial muscles and skeletons to lift 1000 times their own weight

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

Humans have soft muscles and rigid skeletons, and when exerted in optimal sync they have the potential to lift large amounts of weight. A technique, created by scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Harvard’s Wyss Institute, mimics this natural arrangement by using soft muscles and rigid origami skeletons to allow a device to lift 1,000 times its own weight.

This is a major development because, while soft robotics have exhibited promise with dexterity and human-like motion, they have typically lacked sufficient strength to be of much use in typical robotic applications.

Professor Daniela Rus, CSAIL director, said: “Soft robots have so much potential, but up until now, one of the limitations has been payloads. [They’re] very safe, very gentle, but not good for lifting heavy objects. This new approach allows us to make strong and soft robots.”

This technology could be used within warehouses and the manual labour sector where the ability to lift heavy objects with an increased dexterity are a must, but could also find use in applications in a variety of other fields. This wide range of applications will continue to grow as the technology and research advances.

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