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Mobile Robots: Motor Challenges and Materials Solutions

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Science, Volume 318, Number 5853, p.1094-1097 (2007)

URL:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5853/1094

Abstract:

Bolted-down robots labor in our factories, performing the same task over and over again. Where are the robots that run and jump? Equaling human performance is very difficult for many reasons, including the basic challenge of demonstrating motors and transmissions that efficiently match the power per unit mass of muscle. In order to exceed animal agility, new actuators are needed. Materials that change dimension in response to applied voltage, so-called artificial muscle technologies, outperform muscle in most respects and so provide a promising means of improving robots. In the longer term, robots powered by atomically perfect fibers will outrun us all.