Junqiao Wu, a physicist who heads up a group at Berkeley working on material science, and his research team have developed a robotic micro-muscle that is a 1000 times stronger than any human muscle, and is capable of launching objects 50 times heavier than itself over distances five times its length. So… a bit like ants then?
It can perform this feat within 60 milliseconds.
The muscle is made from vanadium dioxide, which is a rock star in the materials world. It can change size, shape and physical identity given specific stimuli, allowing it to function as both an insulator and conductor. Not so much like ants…
It doesn’t stop there either as, according to Wu, “Multiple micro-muscles can be assembled into a micro-robotic system that simulates an active neuromuscular system. This simulates living bodies where neurons sense and deliver stimuli to the muscles and the muscles provide motion.” Translation: This robotic micro-muscle could conceivably be scaled up to create larger muscle systems, closer to those found in nature. Only a lot stronger. Back to ants, we guess.
So who wants to play real-life Deus Ex?
Image: Berkeley Lab