Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed with cartoonishly futuristic implications, including the development of autonomous humanoid robots, artificial limbs that function like the real thing and real life Transformers—.
The main advantage of the new fuel-powered muscles is their versatility as compared to common battery-powered robots. Losing the battery means dropping weight and gaining mobility. Because robots will no longer be tethered by a plug or weighed down with a battery, they will be able to move to their full capacity. The fuel cells can also store 13 times more energy than batteries.
The more powerful of the two types of artificial muscles is capable of applying 100 times the force of a human muscle. A platinum-coated nickel-titanium alloy, the muscle is exposed to methanol, which reacts with oxygen and produces heat, causing the metal to shrink and the muscle to flex. As the metal cools the muscle relaxes. The other muscle is made of carbon nanotubes and relies on a reaction between fuel and oxygen that causes the tubes to expand and retract. —Adam Raymond