Human-like artificial muscles that can extend to five times their original length while lifting loads 80 times their own weight have been developed by researchers in Singapore
robots with their artificial muscles would move smoothly, unlike their hydraulic counterparts. "Robots equipped with such muscles will be able to function in a more human-like manner – and outperform humans in strength."
The muscles also have another important potential application, according to the team. While originally designed to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, they can also work the other way by generating and storing energy harvested from mechanical movements.
…As the polymer material is comparatively inexpensive, robots made with these artificial muscles should be much cheaper than those using existing alternatives. Indeed, Koh says that an artificial muscle would cost about 5% of the price of a comparable hydraulic system. The muscles also have the potential to use much less energy than hydraulic systems.
..."[This] work on electrically addressable artificial muscles is a big step forward to creating fully soft machines that can operate quickly and with enough strength to perform useful tasks."
Looking to the future, the researchers are continuing to improve their robotic muscles: their next goal is to develop a muscle that can operate repeatedly over a million cycles. In three to five years, the team expects to be able to integrate the muscles into a fully functional robotic arm that is capable of performing such tasks as picking up and accurately repositioning loads.
It says it is made of a polymer but doesn't say exactly which chemical elements it contains (although I assume carbon is one of them ) nor exactly how energy efficient it is and I would like to know. Does anyone know?