Scientists at Georgia Tech have successfully replicated muscle movement of the human eye in robots, a milestone they hope will improve the overall operation of our droid friends. Their research could also lead to numerous other benefits like safer robotic equipment, improved understanding of eye motion, and more intuitive video feeds from robot cameras. The secret to giving robots new anthropomorphic qualities lies in piezoelectric cellular actuator used by the team, which utilize biologically-inspired technology that allow a robot eye to behave more like our own.
"The actuators developed in our lab embody many properties in common with biological muscle, especially a cellular structure," says lead researcher Joshua Schultz. "Essentially, in the human eye muscles are controlled by neural impulses. Eventually, the actuators we are developing will be used to capture the kinematics and performance of the human eye." There's still plenty of work to be done by Schultz's group, but these advancements could have a particularly positive effect in the medical realm, where potential use cases include MRI-guided surgery and implementation in rehabilitation robots.