Artificial muscles could make soft robots safer and stronger. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard SEAS, and MIT CSAIL have developed a novel design approach for origami-inspired artificial muscles, capable of lifting 1000x its own weight.
The muscles are made of a compressible skeleton and air or fluid medium encased in a flexible skin, and are powered by pressure difference. The muscle motions are programmed based on the structural geometry of the skeleton. Multi-directional motions can also be programmed into the material. Artificial muscles can also grip, lift, and twist objects.
A variety of materials and fabrication methods can be used to create low-cost artificial muscles. These artificial muscles are fast, light-weight, and powerful, and could be used for miniature medical devices, deployable structures, or wearable robotics.