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IIT Kanpur builds bio-inspired artificial muscle for medical prostheses, space robots

IIT Kanpur builds bio-inspired artificial muscle for medical prostheses, space robots
Photo Credit: Pixabay
19 Jul, 2022
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Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has developed a bio-inspired artificial muscle for next-generation space robots and for adaptive robotic prostheses for bio-medical application in the country. It can also be used in smart buildings, automobiles, and aviation industry, and many more the researchers said.  

The research was conducted at the institute’s Smart Materials, Structures and Systems (SMSS) Lab that is located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the IIT Kanpur and was led by Prof. Bishakh Bhattacharya. 

The technology comprises fast and efficient actuators, whose purpose is to generate mechanical output, such as force and displacement, by transforming electrical energy. The researchers said that shape memory alloy (SMA) based actuators are a class of smart materials and light-weight, that can restore their shape after being exposed to high temperatures. SMAs are considered better alternatives to the conventional actuators, although it has some limitations in terms of strain range and actuation speed. 

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To address this limitation, the SMSS Lab at IIT Kanpur, with the help of Portescap CSR funding, have expanded the design space of the SMA actuator by leveraging the characteristics of bi-pennate muscle architecture with about 70% enhanced muscle force output per unit weight. This will result in the creation of a new class of Space Robots which will reinforce the Indian Space Technology.

“Researchers at the SMSS Lab at IIT Kanpur worked upon those limitations and has developed this unique shape memory alloy-based bio-inspired muscle design that holds the potential to revitalize the Space Robotics and bio-medical technology industry,” said Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur. 

He added that this invention will not only result in the development of Next Gen Space Robots and Medical Prostheses, but will also help aviation and some other industries. “In a way, it will help make multiple sectors self-reliant and more advanced in the long run. I congratulate the whole team for this invention,” he explained. 

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The new research can further encourage researchers in the domain of bio-mechatronics to develop adaptive robotic prostheses for bio-medical application in the country. It will reduce at least one third of the current cost of bio-medical devices and increase the affordability of high-performance systems like MRI Scanner, CT scanner and Surgical Robots. The technology will also enable development of patient rooms with low maintenance and quieter operation, the researcher said.