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


NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has developed a bio-inspired artificial muscle for next-generation space robots and medical prostheses.

The product, developed at the institute’s Smart Materials, Structures and Systems (SMSS) Lab, can be utilised for adaptive robotic prostheses for bio-medical application in the country, and also lead to the creation of a new class of space robots which will reinforce Indian Space Technology, and can be used in smart buildings, automobiles, and aviation industry as well, the researchers said.

The SMSS Lab is located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the IIT Kanpur and is 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 the 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 also better alternatives to conventional actuators, although they have some limitations in terms of strain range and actuation speed.

“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,” explained 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,” he said.

The invention will 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.

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