Robot Arm With Synthetic Muscle Lifts Dumbbell, Shows What Androids Could Look Like

Image courtesy of Łukasza Koźlika

A Polish robotics engineer has developed an incredible synthetic muscle arm and hand, attempting to mimic the complexity of the human body by making a dextrous but strong limb that is capable of lifting a dumbbell. Designed and built by Automaton Robotics, the limb is powered by electricity and uses hydraulics to lift impressive weights, all whilst looking like something straight out of Westworld. 

The video is the latest in a series of updates following the arms development and still requires a few more artificial muscles to be complete. The arm currently has around half the muscles that a biological arm has but is still capable of an impressive range of movement. 

“At this moment our robotic arm is operated only by a half of artificial muscles when compared to a human body. Strongest finger-bending muscle still missing. Fingers are going to move from left to right but they don't have muscles yet. Metacarpal and left-to-right wrist movement are also blocked,” the designers write in the video description. 

“This version has a position sensor in each joint but they are yet to be software-implemented. We are going to add everything mentioned above in the next prototype.” 

Automaton Robotics are a robotics group based in Poland currently consisting of one dedicated engineer, whose sole aim is to create the most advanced humanoid robot the world has ever seen. Over the last seven years, Łukasz Koźlik has developed a robot concept built of intricate synthetic muscle systems and software to give it fine motor control, and he believes the muscle mimicry will create a robot that is fast, highly efficient, and affordable. Each muscle consists of a purpose-built McKibben muscle, or pneumatic artificial muscles, which use either air or hydraulic fluid to fill a bladder and can contract and relax at will. Automaton Robotics expanded on this, using boiled low-temperature fluid to create a fully electric version

Progress so far involves a torso and an arm, attached to a skeleton not unlike those you would find at a doctor’s office. 

The approach seems to be working well, with impressive control over individual fingers and the ability for the arm to support the dumbbell weighing 7 kilograms (15.6 pounds). The robot is even warm-blooded, in a sense, with warm fluid running through synthetic veins. All it needs now is a Jarvis-like AI, and the product would be eerily close to an actual human. 

Unfortunately, the talented engineer relies solely on internet patronage (his Patronite can be found here), but now hopes that he can gain enough support to hire an assistant to push forward the work. 

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