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Away Rude Mechanicals! I Want Self-Sensing Variable-Stiffness Artificial Muscles.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have developed a new type of electric variable-stiffness artificial muscle that possesses self-sensing capabilities.


(An electric self-sensing and variable-stiffness artificial muscle)

Muscle contraction hardening is not only essential for enhancing strength but also enables rapid reactions in living organisms. Taking inspiration from nature, the team of researchers at QMULís School of Engineering and Materials Science has successfully created an artificial muscle that seamlessly transitions between soft and hard states while also possessing the remarkable ability to sense forces and deformations.

With the ability to withstand over 200% stretch along the length direction, this flexible actuator with a striped structure demonstrates exceptional durability.

Gamers and science fiction readers are familiar with the idea of artificial muscle fibers. In Battletech, the giant robot "mechs" are powered by an artificial muscle called "Myomer", a fibrous material consisting of microscopically thin tubes filled with a substance (acti-strandular fiber) that contracts when voltage is applied.


(Battletech Myomer artificial muscle)

A much earlier reference to quasi-muscles can be found in The War of the Worlds, the classic 1898 novel by H.G. Wells.

And not only did the Martians either not know of (which is incredible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in their apparatus singularly little use is made of the fixed pivot or relatively fixed pivot, with circular motions thereabout confined to one plane. Almost all the joints of the machinery present a complicated system of sliding parts moving over small but beautifully curved friction bearings. And while upon this matter of detail, it is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature of the disks in an elastic sheath; these disks become polarised and drawn closely and powerfully together when traversed by a current of electricity. In this way the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder, was attained.

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