Throughout history, visions of the future included human-looking robots. These days we have plenty of robots, but they don’t look like people. They look like disembodied arms, cars, and over-sized hockey pucks concealing a vacuum cleaner. Of course there’s still demand for humanoid robots like Commander Data, but there are many challenges: eyes, legs, skin, and hands. A company known as Clone may have the solution for that last item. The Clone Hand is “the most human-level musculoskeletal hand in the world,” according to the company’s website.
The 0.75 kg hand and forearm offer 24 degrees of freedom and two hours of battery life. It sports 37 muscles and carbon fiber bones. The muscle fibers can cycle over 650,000 times. You can watch the hand in action in the video below.
There is a hydraulic pump that the company likens in size to a human heart. The hand can also sense for feedback purposes. If you want to build your own, you’ll have to figure it out yourself. The Clone Hand is proprietary, but it does show what is in the art of the possible. The company claims they cost under $3,000, but it isn’t clear if that’s their cost or a projected future retail price.
Of course, human hands aren’t always the perfect robot manipulator. But when you need a realistic hand, you really need it. We see a lot of attempts at realistic hands, and we have to say they are getting better.
Continue reading “Robot Hand Looks And Acts Like The Real Thing” →
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!
Continue reading “Taking A Stroll Down Uncanny Valley With The Artificial Muscle Robotic Arm” →
The idea of building a suit that increases the wearer’s strength is a compelling one, often featured in science fiction. There are a handful of real world examples, and [Alex] can now add his to the list. The build comes with a twist however, relying on hydrogen to do the work.
At its heart, the build is not dissimilar to other artificial muscle projects. The muscles in [Alex’s] build consist of a rubber tube inside a nylon braid. When the rubber tube is inflated, it expands, causing the nylon braid to shorten as it grows wider. Commonly, such builds rely on compressed air to power the muscles, however [Alex] took a different path. Instead, water is electrolysed in a chamber designed to look like Iron Man’s arc reactor, with the resulting gases produced being used to drive the muscles. With five muscles ganged up to pull together, the wearable arm support is capable of generating up to 15 kg of pull force.
It’s a design that has a few benefits; the electrolyser has no moving parts, and is much simpler and quieter than a typical air compressor. Obviously, there is a risk of fire thanks to the flammable gases used, but [Alex] explains the precautions taken to minimise this risk in the video.
Exosuits may not be mainstream just yet, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t working to make them a reality. We’ve featured a few before, like this open-source design. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Exoskeleton Muscles Powered By Hydrogen” →
Did you know that under the right conditions, nylon can be used as a type of artificial muscle? We certainly didn’t until we came across [Brandon T. Wood]’s Material Linear-Actuator for Robotics entry for the 2018 Hackaday Prize.
When [Brandon] first learned about Nylon Linear Material Actuators (NLMAs), he became determined to find a repeatable and practical method of making and experimenting with them. This is how it works: hyper-wound coils of nylon, when heated, will contract along their length while expanding in width. Upon cooling, they return to their original shape.
[Brandon] has been busy mainly with the kind of work that is important but not very flashy: finding accessible methods to reliably create strands of artificial nylon muscles cheaply and reliably. His current method uses a jig to wind nylon fishing line until it coils upon itself tightly, then twist a length of nichrome wire around the outside to act as a heater. Using this method, the coils can be electrically controlled. [Brandon] is currently experimenting with creating bundles of individual nylon coils to act all together as one big muscle, because while one wire isn’t particularly strong, a bundle could be quite another story. It’s definitely unusual and is doing a lot of work to turn a known phenomenon into something hackable, which makes it lovely to see in this year’s Hackaday Prize.
It’s no shock that electric eels get a bad rap for being scary creatures. They are slithery fleshy water snakes who can call down lightning. Biologists and engineers at the University of California had something else in mind when they designed their electric eel. Instead of hunting fish, this one swims harmlessly alongside them.
Traditional remotely operated vehicles have relied on hard shells and spinning propellers. To marine life, this is noisy and unnatural. A silent swimmer doesn’t raise any eyebrows, not that fish have eyebrows. The most innovative feature is the artificial muscles, and although the details are scarce, they seem to use a medium on the inside to conduct a charge, and on the outside, the saltwater environment conducts an opposite charge which causes a contraction in the membrane between to the inside and outside. Some swimming action can be seen below the break, and maybe one of our astute readers can shed some light on this underwater adventurer’s bill of materials.
One of our favorite submarines is the 2017 Hackaday Prize winner, The Open Source Underwater Glider. For a more artistic twist on submersibles, the Curv II is one of the most elegant we have seen.
Continue reading “Gentle Electric Eel” →
Perhaps our future overlords won’t be made up of electrical circuits after all but will instead be soft-bodied like ourselves. However, their design will have its origins in electrical analogues, as with the Octobot.
The Octobot is the brainchild a team of Harvard University researchers who recently published an article about it in Nature. Its body is modeled on the octopus and is composed of all soft body parts that were made using a combination of 3D printing, molding and soft lithography. Two sets of arms on either side of the Octobot move, taking turns under the control of a soft oscillator circuit. You can see it in action in the video below.
Continue reading “Soft Robot With Microfluidic Logic Circuit” →
Custom, robotic prosthesis are on the rise. In numerous projects, hackers and makers have taken on the challenge. From Enabling The Future, Open Hand Project, OpenBionics to the myriad prosthesis projects on Hackaday.io. Yet, the mechatronics that power most of them are still from the last century. At the end of the day, you can only fit so many miniature motors and gears into a plastic hand, and only so many hydraulics fit onto an arm or leg before it becomes a slow, heavy brick – more hindering than helpful. If only we had a few extra of these light, fast and powerful actuators that help us make it through the day. If only we had artificial muscles.
Continue reading “Artificial Muscles To Bring Relief To Robotic Tenseness” →