Australian biomedical experts have developed a smart textile that incorporates synthetic ‘muscles’ in an effort to revolutionise wearable exoskeletons and soft robotics.
To demonstrate how easily the material could change shape, the researchers utilised models of a butterfly and flower made of the textile that moved intricatly in their lab.
The project’s leader, Thanh Nho Do, has bigger plans and believes his team may even be able to use the material to create a human smart suit.
Like the Iron Man suit or Spiderman costume, Do, who is also the director of the University of New South Wales Medical Robotics Lab, said. It is quite flexible and conforms to the body to a great extent.
The programmable smart textiles were created by weaving or knitting artificial muscle fibres into fabric. The resulting substance, according to the team’s scientific research, can lift objects up to 192 times their weight and can change shape. It was published in June. The ‘muscle fibres’ were created, according to the study, from long silicon tubes that had been filled with fluid and bent hydraulically using a syringe.
The team is also creating a non-invasive device that can wrap around the heart and aid in blood circulation throughout the body to help those with cardiovascular difficulties, thanks to funding from the National Heart Foundation of Australia.