Saturday, December 8, 2007

Muscles, Levers, Robots

Saturday I'm teaching a course for Adventure in Science about muscles and leverage, and learning about both by building pneumatic artificial muscles for robots. The muscles we'll build are big. They are made from plastic drum liners and powered by an electric air-mattress blower. I hope to have photos to post afterwards. Meanwhile some relevant links:

Our pneumatic artificial muscles are most similar to the pleated artificial muscles described by Frank Daerden and Dirk Lefeber, but here the plastic is not pleated in advance, merely cinched at each end.

Crucial to this project is the ability to tie the constrictor knot, a wonderful knot that works like a hose clamp to bundle the ends of the muscle together.

We'll start by observing our own muscles in action, and notice how they work in opposing pairs, and then re-examine the principle of the lever to see how muscles might extend their range of motion and increase their speed of movement.

It should be fun for anyone who wants to build big muscles.

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