Mechanical engineer Michael Shafer and graduate student Diego Higueras-Ruiz conduct a visual inspection of the new compliant robotic arm actuated with the artificial muscles.

Northern Arizona University researchers developed high-performance artificial muscle technology based on linear actuators. Because of their helical structure, the actuators generate more power, making them an ideal technology for robotics applications.

The artificial muscles are based on twisted polymer actuators (TPAs) that use pressurized fluid to actuate. These devices respond about as fast as the fluid can be pumped, demonstrating contractile efficiency of up to about 45 percent.

The technology could be used in soft robotics applications, conventional robotic actuators such as walking robots, or potentially in assistive technologies like exoskeletons or prostheses.