Human muscles can summon the strength to lift heavy objects, the sensitivity to grasp something delicate, and the energy to throw a ball. Now a new class of artificial muscles developed at the University of Colorado in Boulder can imitate all these motions, raising the possibility that a robot or human prosthetic could match -- perhaps even surpass -- its biological model.
The artificial muscles are actuators, the parts of robots that create movement. Named HASELs, or "hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic" actuators, they are soft and stretchy. Electrodes placed in various positions create positive and negative charges, causing the HASELs to expand and contract.
Tim Morrissey and Eric Acome, who helped develop the technology, tell Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that HASELs have the potential to work faster and stronger than real human muscles. Articles detailing different designs appear in the journals Science and Science Robotics.