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VIDEO: A Breakthrough in Soft Robot Muscles, Funded by the Military

Published: November 27, 2017
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Source: Defense One

Back-flipping robots made of metal and other hard materials may be a big hit on YouTube, but future military robots may need appendages that are far softer, stronger and flexible — more like natural muscle tissue.

Funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a team of researchers from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or CSAIL, along with scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, have created robot “muscles” that use hydraulics rather than electric motors. These muscles are strong – the researchers say their 2.6-gram robot muscle can lift a 3-kilogram object, like a “mallard duck lifting a car” — and can shrink to 10 percent of their original size, all while using much less power than typical metal-and-circuit robots.

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