Following news of an engine that does away with the mechanistic elements of yesteryear comes reports that the drive to remove nuts and bolts is all the rage among robots also.
The Auckland Bioengineering Institute in New Zealand has engineered a new form of motor that creates continuous rotational force. This motor uses only a few parts and has no need for gears, cogs, or bearings. In lieu of these traditional robotic organs are jelly-like artificial muscles, composed of an extremely elastic insulating polymer film. The polymer layer contracts and expands as voltages are applied and removed, behaving just like the antagonistic muscles in our bodies.
Upon application of a voltage, one layer accumulates a positive charge and the other a negative charge, attracting the layers to each other and squishing the polymer insulator in between them. It takes six of these muscles, arranged like the spokes of a bicycle wheel, to turn the shaft of the motor in continuous rotary motion.