Robotics engineers of Georgia Tech have replicated the muscle motion of the human eye to control camera systems more effectively. This new muscle-like action could help make robotic tools safer and more effective for MRI-guided surgery and robotic rehabilitation.
Scientific advancements have always received inspiration from the natural world, and this new control system is no different. Ph.D. candidate Joshua Schultz and assistant professor Jun Ueda from Georgia Tech’s School of Mechanical Engineering have developed a mechanism to orient a camera using muscle-like cellular actuators in a compact, lightweight package. In the human eye, muscles are controlled by neural impulses. Eventually, the actuators researchers are developing will be used to capture the kinematics and performance of the human eye. Thanks to the wonders of piezoelectric materials. Piezoelectric materials expand or contract when juiced with electricity, which can be translated into motion. This new discovery will be used to improve the operation of robots.
To develop this robot camera, the Georgia Tech team used a contractile ceramic to generate motion. Besides, the team used 16 amplified piezoelectric stacks per side. In fact, this new technology uses less energy than traditional camera positioning mechanisms and is compliant for more flexibility. For more, head over to Georgia Tech.
Details of the research were presented June 25, 2012, at the IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics in Rome, Italy. The research is funded by National Science Foundation. Schultz also receives partial support from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation.