Researchers at Northwestern University have created the smallest-ever remote-controlled robot. It’s just half a millimeter across and can move across human skin without even being felt.
This is not the smallest robot ever. Nanorobots have been created that are smaller than that. Medical delivery robots can be just as small. What makes this robot stand out is that it is remote controlled.
Controllers for servo motors are nothing new, but where do you find a servo small enough to work on the scale of a half-millimeter robot?
A new means of control
This super small robot moves in response to changes in temperature. And when we say “moves,” it changes its shape suddenly, causing a hop or jump or inchworm-like slither, depending on the original shape.
A rubber substrate and a thin glass coating allow the shape changes. The researchers were inspired by kids’ pop-up books. Heat causes the tiny robots to pop up into three dimensional shapes. When they cool down, they return to their previous shape.
Lasers can change the temperature in targeted ways to create different kinds of movements.
It’s not dancing robots, but it’s also not just floating along in someone’s bloodstream.
Meanwhile, back at the factory…
We’re not expecting to see this technology making car parts or assembling things any time soon. We’re not even sure it can be called a robot. Like a lot of robotics research, this is early conceptual research.
But every new thing we learn can lead to new outcomes at some point in the future.
Right now, your manufacturing and printing machinery needs servos, drives, and controls to work. If you use Rexroth motion control systems, we can help you keep them working the way they should.
We facilitate factory repair and reman, getting your ailing units back to you in like-new condition with a new warranty. Call us for immediate assistance.