Motors are not required for future robots

To develop micro as well as a biomimetic robot, a lot of items are researched by the scientists. Such elements involve artificial muscles and medical devices, actuating materials that can invariably change their volume under various stimuli. These materials are utilized to mainly replace the age-old bulky and heavy actuators including motors and pneumatic actuators.

A team of Mechanical Engineers headed by Professor Alfonso Ngan Hing-wan who is the chair professor in Materials Sciences and Engineering, Kingboard professor in Materials Engineering and also a faculty member of the University of Hong Kong, brought up an article in Science Robotics on 30th May 2018. It has revealed the fact that actuating material such as nickel hydroxide-oxyhydroxide can be powered by visible (Vis) light, electricity, and other stimuli.

The material actuation can be instantly started by Vis light to bring up a fast deformation and after that create a force which is equivalent to 3000 times more than its weight. The Cost of the material of a typical actuator is pretty low and comparable to HKD 4 per cm2, and it is also possible to fabricate within three hours to spare.    

Among different kinds of stimuli that are available, light-induced actuating materials are very much wanted they enable for the wireless operations of the robots. But we have to keep in mind the fact that very few of such articles were available in the past and were highly costly. Such high prices posed n obstacle in the proper development of the actual applications such as artificial muscles for robotics as well as human assist device.

Experiments for the actuating materials can change the concept of robots very fast which are currently motor-driven. As a result, the primary focus of research for the current years has been examinations of change in temperature, humidity, magnetic fields and light also.

To be precise, the material that can be actuated by Vis light and at the same time exhibits robust, quick and stable actuation has never been found out. In addition to the Vis light actuation properties, this novel actuation system can also be initiated by electricity helping it to be integrated into the current well-developed robotics technology. It is also affected by humid and heat changes to be applied to autonomous machines that adapt to the tiny energy changes in the environment.

Since the primary material is nickel, the material cost will also be low.