Researchers were able to develop artificial muscles that aren't just cost-effective but can also lift up to a thousand times its weight. Should we expect to see the creation of lifelike robots soon?
3D-Printed Artificial Muscles
Researchers from Columbia Engineering have created artificial muscles that may soon allow the creation of robots that can mimic natural human biological systems. Thanks once again to 3D-printing technology, researchers were able to create artificial active tissues with intrinsic expansion capability.
The material is said to be extremely low cost at just three cents per gram, is environment friendly, and has an expansion density that is 15 times larger than that of natural tissue. Amazingly, it can also lift up to a thousand times its weight.
Compared to other artificial muscles that expand when air or water is supplied, requiring hydraulic or pneumatic inflation, the team's creation expands via electric actuation using a thin resistive wire that emits 8 volts of electricity.
Are Humans Close To Making Lifelike Robots?
The team's creation takes humans a step closer to creating soft, lifelike robots, but it is still just a step closer. "We've been making great strides toward making robots minds, but robot bodies are still primitive," said Hod Lipson, co-creator of the artificial muscle.
Still, researchers believe that the importance of creating soft, lifelike robots could lead to implications in the fields of health care, manufacturing, and other areas that would require interacting with humans because of their capability to replicate natural movement. As it stands, researchers are looking into developing their creation and possibly incorporating artificial intelligence to control the muscle.
Should We Be Scared?
Should we be scared of these developments? Even prominent visionaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned about the prospects of AI development and even of a Terminator-like robot apocalypse. Despite the warnings, however, tech giants continue to study and develop their own AI technologies.
As of now, there are also exciting prospects when it comes to developing artificial organs. Just last July, a team of researchers presented their own development of a 3D-printed silicone heart that looks and beats just like the real thing. Although just like the artificial muscle wherein adjustments still need to be made before it can actually beat and function properly and for a substantial amount of time, the prospects of these creations can be revolutionary tools in the field of medicine.
Indeed, there is still much to learn about how AI and robot development can be used to the fullest without opening the dangers of harming humanity.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.