Over the past few years, soft robotics has been making rapid growth across the world, with researchers continuously experimenting with various materials and designs to incorporate flexibility in once rigid and jerky machines in a way that it can easily interact with living organisms more naturally. However, the heightened flexibility and deftness has a led to reduced strength, since softer and malleable materials are usually not as resilient and sturdy as their rigid counterparts, which limits their usability.
Recently, a team of researchers at Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT and the Wyss Institute of Harvard University have come up with an origami-inspired artificial muscles, which can be used to add strength and power to soft robots, enabling them to lift up objects, which are nearly 1,000 times heavier than them, by utilizing only air or water pressure. A research report on this discovery is likely to be published in this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Dr. Daniela Rus, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and at MIT and a senior authors of the research paper stated that they were extremely surprised by the robustness of the actuators (muscles). They actually expected that they would have a relatively higher maximum functional weight compared to ordinary soft robots, but they did not expect a thousand-fold raise, which is more like providing these robots with superpowers.