Actuators inspired by muscle

Whitesides and Yang


A team led by a core faculty member at Harvard’s institute developed a new actuator that generates movements similar to those of skeletal muscles using vacuum power to automate soft, rubber beams. The actuators model the human bicep muscle, as they are soft, shock absorbing, and pose no danger to their environment or humans working collaboratively alongside them, They are filled with small, hollow chambers of air like a honeycomb. By applying vacuum, the chambers collapse and the entire actuator contracts, generating movement. Whereas other actuators powered by electricity or combustion could cause damage to humans or their surroundings, loss of vacuum pressure in VAMPs would simply render the actuator motionless.


Devices that surround us on the daily life are either generated by electricity or fuel, and they can be a factor of danger for humans around them. This technique of the actuator is very simplistic and also safe. The human anatomy inspires us to design human like products that mimics movement, nature, and structure. When we think about medical devices we need to consider any kind malfunction which can be dangerous for patients.