In a bid to improve the agility and adaptability of military robots working alongside soldiers, researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (or the DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory), Duke University and the University of North Carolina are attempting to incorporate muscle into legged robotic platforms.

To enable military robots to go anywhere soldiers can, including high-risk environments, and to navigate rough and unstable terrain, the researchers are exploring how to incorporate living organisms into mechanical systems — an approach called biohybrid robotics.

Added to joints in legged robotic platforms such as the Army's Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation research platform (LLAMA) and the U.S. Marine Corps' Legged Squad Support System (LS3), the muscle tissue could potentially replace the actuators in such mechanical systems.

In addition to flexible ground-based robots, the researchers are also eyeing the development of flapping wing drones containing muscle.

For more on the research, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of DEVCOM.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com