New Gel-based Robotics to Power Artificial Muscles

Creating artificial muscles has been area of interest for scientists for long and now a group of researchers spearheaded by Minoru Hashimoto, who is professor of textile science and technology at Shinshu University, Japan, are believed to have achieved a breakthrough in it. They have come up with a wearable robot that can underpin the hip joint of a person while walking. The findings of the team was published in the journal called Smart Materials and Structures published by the Institute of Physics.

Though enormous progress have been made since the initial wood and strap designs, when it comes to creating muscle power a lot needed to be achieved. Hopefully, the latest wearable robot will go a long way in providing a meaningful solution in this direction.

The current wearable robot can assist a person with weakened muscles in their daily activities by being soft and lightweight.

How Does the System Work?

The wearable system is comprised of mesh electrodes, plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gel, and applied voltage. It works by pressing the gel with the mesh electrode when voltage is used. This enables the gel to flex and contract like a muscle.

It is a wearable actuator that can result in movement.

As per Minoru Hashimoto, the electrical mechanical properties of the PVC gel led them to the idea that they could be leveraged for robotic artificial muscles. Voltage can be added to PVC gel which can bring about speedy movement.

The device was first tried on a stroke patient paralyzed on one side of body and it helped to increase step length and decrease muscular activity while walking in a straight line.