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Isaac Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’ Soon To Be Reality

Update Date: Dec 25, 2013 11:15 AM EST
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A robot has been developed by scientists that can throw something 50 times of its own weight and five times its length in just 60 milliseconds.

“We’ve created a micro-bimorph dual coil that functions as a powerful torsional muscle, driven thermally or electro-thermally by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide,” said Junqiao Wu, the project’s lead scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (Berkeley Labs) in the press release. 

The enormous power that robot’s muscle possess is powered by a special property of vanadium dioxide. Vanadium dioxide changes its physical state when heated or cooled. The muscle of the robot is also in the shape of a V. When heated, it causes one dimension to contract while the other two dimensions expand and create a torsion spring.

Evidently the muscle has demonstrated the potential for what might result in the future of artificial neuromuscular systems.

“Electric current is the better way to go because it allows for the selective heating of individual micro-muscles and the heating and cooling process is much faster," said Wu according to IB Times. 

Three months earlier Dr. Adrian Koh of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Engineering had also announced a similar muscle that could carry 80 times of its own weight.

Researchers suggested that these micro-muscles are going to change the game of humanoid robotics.

“Our materials mimic those of the human muscle, responding quickly to electrical impulses, instead of slowly for mechanisms driven by hydraulics. Robots move in a jerky manner because of this mechanism. Now, imagine artificial muscles which are pliable, extendable and react in a fraction of a second like those of a human. Robots equipped with such muscles will be able to function in a more human-like manner – and outperform humans in strength," said Dr. Koh to IB Times.

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