Human World

Ray Baughman develops fuel-powered muscle robots that pump more iron

Most of today’s robots are powered by motors or batteries. But like any electrical device, a robot’s energy runs out quickly, and the robot has to be plugged in to recharge. Now, scientists are developing fuel-powered artificial muscles to free robots from the wall socket.

EarthSky spoke with Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas. Baughman is steering humanoid robots towards a power system that mimics our own human muscles. Just as we convert our fuel – food – into chemical energy, Baughman envisions a future where a shot of high-density fuel will reinvigorate a robot’s energy.

These robot muscles are made on the nanoscale — the artificial muscles are made of very thin wires that are coated with nano particles.

Baughman said the nano fuels can store 30 times more energy than batteries, and it can make the artificial muscles up to 500 times stronger than human muscles.

These super muscles could be used for prosthetic limbs, and robotic exoskeletons that would give humans super strength. And it would make better, sportier humanoid robots.

Our thanks to:

Ray Baughman
Director, Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute
University of Texas at Dallas

October 24, 2008
Human World

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