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Sep 12, 2015

Ras Labs Is Testing Futuristic Muscle Material That Could Make Robots Feel More Human

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, materials, robotics/AI, space

Synthetics startup Ras Labs is working with the International Space Station to test “smart materials” that contract like living tissue. These “electroactive” materials can expand, contract and conform to our limbs just like human muscles when a current moves through them – and they could be used to make robots move and feel more human to the touch.

Ras Labs co-founder Lenore Rasmussen accidentally stumbled upon the synthetic muscle material years ago while mixing chemicals in the lab at Virginia Tech. The experiment turned out to be with the wrong amount of ingredients, but it produced a blob of wobbly jelly that Rasmussen noticed contracted and expanded like muscles when she applied an electrical current.

It would be years later when Rasmussen’s cousin nearly lost his foot in a farming accident that she would start to employ that discovery to robotic limbs and space travel. The co-founder thought her cousin might lose his foot and started researching prosthetics.

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  • Venanzio Cardarelli on November 11, 2015 2:30 pm

    very interesting. Striated skeletal muscle( simulations) with sarcomeres might be an adjunct to improve its ability to function within closer contractural limits and lesser voltages. Not smooth muscle or cardiac muscle…when I read about this in the south shore living I was thinking of a possible application provided that the synthetic muscle have applications whereby the muscle would react to pressures and so doing have a relaxing effect of the muscle and once the pressure was relieved the muscle would return to its contracted state( with current and without current( simulating nerve conduction). Any studies done aside from temperature.