Scientists from two elite universities have pioneered a new way of creating artificial muscles. The scientists dubbed their discovery a "soft robot". It is a 2.6-gram "muscle" that looks like a small bag with water-filled compartments. It is supported by an origami-inspired structural framework that gives it great strength. This means the muscle can lift something 1,000 times its own weight. This weight-to-strength ratio is the same as a newborn baby lifting a large 4WD car. This ground-breaking discovery could benefit many areas of science, medicine, robotics and engineering.
The scientists are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. They work in the area of soft robotics. Their new soft robot muscle can be made in 10 minutes and costs less than a dollar. Professor Robert Wood hopes to create "softer" robots that are similar to humans. He said: "Humans are normally soft and brittle compared to the big industrial robots that you might find on an assembly line. The next step is to take this system and develop it into a fully functional robot." The robots could be like the human hand - strong enough to grip an object, while being soft and gentle.