These robots use living muscle tissue to mimic human fingers

As if the line between human and machine wasn’t already blurry enough, researchers in Tokyo have developed a new method for using living rat muscle tissue in robotics.

The “biohybrid” design, described today in the journal Science Robotics, simulates the look and movements of a human finger. Video shows how it bends at the joint, picks up a loop, and places it down. It’s a seemingly simple movement but one that researchers say lays the groundwork for more advanced—and even more lifelike—robots. (Meet Sophia, the robot that looks almost human.)

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Artificial muscles give soft robots superpowers

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Soft robotics has made leaps and bounds over the last decade as researchers around the world have experimented with different materials and designs to allow once rigid, jerky machines to bend and flex in ways that mimic and can interact more naturally with living organisms. However, increased flexibility and dexterity has a trade-off of reduced strength, as softer materials are generally not as strong or resilient as inflexible ones, which limits their use.

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Researchers invent super-elastic conducting fibers to make artificial muscles, sensors, and capacitors

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A University of Texas at Dallas research team has made electrically conducting fibers that can be reversibly stretched to more than 14 times their initial length and whose electrical conductivity increases 200-fold when stretched.

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Scientists have used carbon nanotubes to engineer the most powerful artificial muscles ever

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Nanotubes contribute to another breakthrough.

Will the wonders of carbon nanotubes never cease? Engineers have now used everyone’s favorite cylindrical übermolecules to create artificial muscles that can contract and twist, in a manner not unlike like the muscles found in elephant trunks and squid tentacles. The upshot? Researchers say these tiny little motors could soon be used to propel microscopic nanobots throughout your bloodstream.

In nanoscale engineering, the term “artificial muscle” is used to refer to materials that can change their shape in response to stimuli. The mechanical movements created by these muscles have potential applications in everything from cancer therapies to portable electronics…

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