Biologically inspired technology that mimics muscle-like action could help make robots more effective for MRI-guided surgery and robotic rehabilitation, the Georgia Institute of Technology reported Thursday.
"For a robot to be truly bio-inspired, it should possess actuation, or motion generators, with properties in common with the musculature of biological organisms," engineering Ph.D. candidate Joshua Schultz said.
The technology uses piezoelectric materials that expand or contract when electricity is applied to them, providing a way to transform input signals into motion, the researchers said.
"The actuators developed in our lab embody many properties in common with biological muscle, especially a cellular structure. Essentially, in the human eye muscles are controlled by neural impulses. Eventually, the actuators we are developing will be used to capture the kinematics and performance of the human eye," Schultz said.
The technology could improve industrial robots, medical and rehabilitation robots and intelligent assistive robots, the scientists said.