Published: 19th July 2022
IIT Kanpur research team develops bio-inspired artificial muscle for space robots
"This will result in the creation of a new class of space robots, which will reinforce Indian space technology," the team wrote in the paper published in Nature Scientific Reports
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have developed a bio-inspired artificial muscle for next-generation space robots and medical prostheses. They announced this development on Tuesday, July 19. According to the team, their research will assist in enforcing the Indian space technology.
"This will result in the creation of a new class of space robots, which will reinforce Indian space technology," the team wrote in the paper published in Nature Scientific Reports. The technology will also aid in reducing the cost of medical devices and enabling quieter operations, as per IANS.
There is an industry demand and growth in the field of miniature, light weight, non-magnetic gear-free actuators. And accordingly, shape memory alloy (SMA) based actuators have emerged with a good power-to-weight ratio as a suitable alternative to the conventional actuators. However, existing SMA actuators have limited scope in terms of higher force or torque output due to the relatively simple architecture of the actuation mechanism.
The said team from the Smart Materials, Structures and Systems (SMSS) Lab at IIT Kanpur worked at addressing this limitation. They expanded the design space of the SMA actuator by leveraging the characteristics of bi-pennate muscle architecture with about 70 per cent enhanced muscle force output per unit weight.
Professor Abhay Karandikar, Director at IIT Kanpur, said, "This invention will not only result in the development of next-gen space robots and medical prostheses, but will also help aviation and some other industries. In a way, it will help make multiple sectors self-reliant and more advanced in the long run," in a statement as per IANS.
The primary goal of an actuator is to generate mechanical output, such as force and displacement, by transforming electrical energy. SMAs are a class of smart materials that can restore their shape after being exposed to high temperatures.
The interesting property of the customisable multi-stage hierarchy of the SMA-based bio-inspired muscle design developed by the IIT team would also encourage researchers in the domain of bio-mechatronics to develop adaptive robotic prostheses for bio-medical application in the country, according to IANS.
This would significantly reduce the cost of bio-medical devices by one-third and increase the affordability of high performance systems like MRI scanner, CT scanner and surgical robots. The technology would also enable development of patient rooms with low maintenance and quieter operation.