Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

MIT Manufactures Mech-Muscles for Our Future Robots

Muscles aren't exactly the most complex machines in the world, even if they do happen to reside within the most complex machine. As giant rubber bands, our muscles simply expand and contract to create locomotion. And yet we've relied, for the most part, on a different kind of physics for the artificial machines that we create -- typically based on simple machines (pulleys, levers, wheels and axles, etc.) that multiply force. Researchers at MIT, however, have been working on a project that investigates the potential of mechanical muscles called shape-memory alloy actuators.

At only a fraction of a millimeter thick, the actuators are cut from a sheet of metal with notches removed from the edges to create more electrical resistance. That resistance makes the actuator bend and fold, creating motion with a torque three to six times more powerful than electric motors -- while only coming in at a fraction of the weight. And the actuators can, in fact, make enough force to move or lift an object 160 times their own weight, making them fearsome little scraps of metal, indeed. Researchers hope to use these actuators for surgical implementations or in quake-proofing buildings, but for now they're relegated to adorable little rolling bots that could give any piston-powered foe a run for its mechanical money. [From: PopSci]

Tags: actuator, biomimicry, mit, robot, robotics, science, Shape-memoryAlloyActuators, top