For this question, I want to have robots/androids with artificial muscles for motion. I know that there is a kind of silicon-ethanol muscle that works by thermal energy (the electricity boils the Ethanol, making the liquid to become gas, expand and simulate a contraction).

But nothing really useful for robots in general, nor close to Westworld silica-muscles

The only thing I can think of is dielectric muscles, but these need charges beyond 10kv to work.

Are there designs currently or in development that would be suitable as artificial muscles for a robot or android? The goal would be to achieve something similar to artificial muscles as shown in shows such as Westworld (but not looking for an explanation of Westworld; it's just an example), functioning as muscles not hydraulics, etc.

I can imagine that the answer is a hard one, but I want to know if there is something out there that gets close enough.

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    $\begingroup$ If you are looking for explanation on a third party fictional world, worldbuilding is not the place to go $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 24, 2021 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch read the question a bit more carefully, it just an example what level of capacities OP is looking for. Why single mention of a fictional example brings it in an invalid territory? Should any mentioning of Asimov or Clark works bring any q in that territory as well? OP does not ask for ww, it another artificial muskle question looking for high performance solutions. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    May 24, 2021 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ For your research and interest. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2021 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ My heart tells me to VTC, but I'm having trouble rationalizing it. Please pay attention to my reasons. Qs about 3rd party/commercial worlds are off-topic. Asking "I want Star Wars light sabers in my world, how can I do that?" is valid because it's a question about the rules of your world. That's worldbuilding because you own the world and its rules. But you're asking what real-world tech can reflect a 3rd-party world. Now the question is just a research effort, and that's not quite what SE's about. Worst of all, the answer is "none" unless you're willing to allow pneumatic (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 24, 2021 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ ... or hydraulic pistons and motors, there isn't anything that's "close enough." Maybe if you defined (very specifically!) what "close enough" means because, frankly, pistons and motors are close enough to "muscles" to achieve the desired effect in robots and there are plenty of examples in the world today to demonstrate that. Honestly, the question doesn't feel like you're building your own world - and that's what has me on edge - but the question is just vague enough to not cross that line. But that's a down-vote reason. So I'm going to down vote instead. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 24, 2021 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


There is a group at UC Boulder working on Artificial muscles (https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202003375) that are made out of small, aligned plastic pouches which contain an electrostatic fluid which expands and contracts upon creating a potential difference across all pouches.

By designing pouches in various shapes and by changing the fluid volume, various contractions can be developed to increase the degrees of freedom i.e. more types of movements.


You need to look up Festo. They're the company behind those viral youtube videos of flying penguins and birds.

Most of their products are normal servos and actuators - electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic. Their experimental stuff are meme worthy (just search for "festo" on youtube) . However, they do sell this pneumatic muscle: https://www.festo.com/us/en/p/fluidic-muscle-id_DMSP/?q=~:festoSortOrderScored

Festo Fluidic Muscle

You can see a simple demo of this on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iG1ybuchx0

Their commercial muscle is quite large. However they have made experimental muscles that are tiny. Of course, you would need a full pneumatic or hydraulic infrastructure to expand and contract these muscles but you can hide the pumps, valves etc. in the robot's body as organs. In fact if you searched youtube like I mentioned above you would find example robots from Festo themselves that they use as demos at trade shows.


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