Taking A Stroll Down Uncanny Valley With The Artificial Muscle Robotic Arm

A robotic arm uses artificial muscles powered by water to lift a 7 kg barbell.

Wikipedia says “The uncanny valley hypothesis predicts that an entity appearing almost human will risk eliciting cold, eerie feelings in viewers.” And yes, we have to admit that as incredible as it is, seeing [Automaton Robotics]’ hand and forearm move in almost human fashion is a bit on the disturbing side. Don’t just take our word for it, let yourself be fascinated and weirded out by the video below the break.

While the creators of the Artificial Muscles Robotic Arm are fairly quiet about how it works, perusing through the [Automaton Robotics] YouTube Channel does shed some light on the matter. The arm and hand’s motion is made possible by artificial muscles which themselves are brought to life by water pressurized to 130 PSI (9 bar). The muscles themselves appear to be a watertight fiber weave, but these details are not provided. Bladders inside a flexible steel mesh, like finger traps?

[Automaton Robotics]’ aim is to eventually create a humanoid robot using their artificial muscle technology. The demonstration shown is very impressive, as the hand has the strength to lift a 7 kg (15.6 lb) dumbbell even though some of its strongest artificial muscles have not yet been installed.

A few years ago we ran a piece on Artificial Muscles which mentions pneumatic artificial muscles that contract when air pressure is applied, and it appears that [Automaton Robotics] has employed the same method with water instead. What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments below. Also, thanks to [The Kilted Swede] for this great tip! Be sure to send in your own tips, too!

24 thoughts on “Taking A Stroll Down Uncanny Valley With The Artificial Muscle Robotic Arm

  1. At least they didn’t go with a flesh-colored covering.

    This is promising. Muscle-analogs that pull when activated have advantages when it comes to mounting them, because unlike pushing actuators, they always apply force in a straight line. This simplifies mechanical layouts and allows for much higher volumetric efficiency. Now, add to that an electro-hydraulic actuation mechanism, and you amplify the force available as well as moving the prime mover away from the fine controls, which also moves the major heat dissipation away, making cooling simpler.

    And THEN, you have a gazillion examples in nature, of mechanisms that can work using this sort of actuator. Ornithopters, anyone?

  2. Such an awesome build. They really need to switch to proportional valves on the hydraulics to get much smoother motion. An improved control system will make the world of difference with this build.

    The uncanny valley is real with this one, but in a good way. It really looks like something out of the Delos cybernetics labs.

  3. While I like the look of the build, they are careful enough to never show the rest of the build, because probably is huge and unpractical.
    The hard part would be to be able to do the same with a system that is constraint to the same space as the arm. Otherwise is just a nicer iteration of cable base actuators.

  4. Humans are pretty disgusting to be afraid of something that looks almost human. I feel sorry for any aliens in the future. “Go away you’re giving me an eerie feeling creep!” Lmfao. Sorry for any anthromorphic species.

    1. I’m pretty sure the issue is around not being natural rather than not being human. We’re not ‘afraid’ of the look of our closest relatives who have hands and faces that look quite similar to ours but move naturally.

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