“Artificial muscles” have been made from millions of carbon nanotubes. Like natural muscles, providing an electrical charge causes the individual fibers to expand and the whole structure to move.
“The Humaniform Muscles is the world's first integrated pneumatic actuator. The Humaniform Muscle has two integrated micro-miniature proportional air valves and also features all the connectors, fixtures and fixings to make installation easy. The Humaniform Muscle has been inspired by the design of a human muscle and operates in an analogous manner. The muscle consists of a high durability rubber inner tube that is surrounded by a tough braided mesh. The muscle is mounted and secured using the clamp blocks provided at each end. As air is allowed into the muscle, the braid expands radially and contracts axially causing the muscle to shorten in length” http://www.merlinsystemscorp.com/pages/html/humaniformmuscle.html As of 2006, these muscles are NOT suitable for production use (having high failure rates) but may be usable in experimental, or laboratory settings.
Professor Yoshihito Osada's soft machines research, aiming to develop artificial organs by using polymer gels.
Osada, Yoshihito., ed. Gels handbook, Vol.1-4: ed. by Yoshihito Osada and Kanji Kajiwara. – San Diego: Academic Press, 2001. ISBN : 0-12-394690-5. Vol.1 : Fundamentals. Vol.2 : Functions. Vol.3 : Applications. Vol.4 : Environment: Earth environment and gels.
“The scientists have already laid the cornerstone for 'organi-tech' industrial materials: 'biomimetic' polymer gels capable of changing their size or shape in response to stimuli such as acids and bases, thereby converting chemical energy into mechanical activity, like living muscles. Polymer scientists' interest in a softer, wetter technology evinces a shift away from the mechanistic paradigms of the industrial age. According to researcher Yoshihito Osada, growing numbers of scintists are drawing inspiration from 'biological systems' such as the sea cucumber, a waterlogged gel stuffed with primitive organs that can nonetheless feed, reproduce and even defend itself from predators. when threatened, the cucumber dissolves part of its body wall into a viscous mass, making it difficult to grasp. “We beleive that in the not too distant future” write Osada and researcher Simon B. Ross Murphy, ” we will find a way to build soft machines that can respond in an intelligent fashion to their environments (from Intelligent Gels in May 1993, Scientific American, 82).
… Engineers are already building a conceptual bridge, in the form of experimental 'smart' materials, that may one day meet Osada's 'chemomechanical' systems halfway. Designed to actively resist earthquakes, these materials become viscous when electrified by a current transmitted by a quake's vibrations; when the tremors subside, they solidify. See Kamar Naj, “Southern California Earthquake: Engineers Want New Buildings to Behave like Human Beings, Wall Street Journal, January 20, 1994, Section B,I”
From: M. Dery (1999). The persistence of Industrial Memory. In ed. A. Marras (1999) ECO-TEC, Architecture of the In Between. Princeton Architectural Press, New York.
Biologically inspired legged robots for space operations by Ron jacobs from NASA's NIAC - utilising air pressure for contraction and expansion of flexible tubing surrounded by a braided mesh. http://www.niac.usra.edu/files/studies/final_report/pdf/112Jacobs.pdf
Today's robots move by complex combinations of motors, gears and hydraulics. But robots of the future will be far more elegant and efficient, capable of doing more complex tasks while consuming less energy and weighing less. This will be especially important for the success of robotic space exploration, but in a few decades, it might also allow paralyzed humans to regain their mobility. [source?]
Libarynth > Libarynth Web > ArtificialMuscles r9 - 04 Oct 2006 - 08:53