Directing Microrobot Swarms

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Dartmouth College, and Duke University recently demonstrated that a single electrical charge can direct microrobots to self-assemble into larger structures.


(Each robot consists of a body
(about 100 micrometers long) and
an arm that it uses to turn
)

"Most of the work to date has been on controlling a single robot that can move around in a pre-defined area on a substrate," adds Jason Gorman [robotics researcher in the Intelligent Systems Division at NIST]. "However, many of the applications of interest will require control of lots of robots, like a colony of ants."

Bruce Donald, a professor of computer science and biochemistry at Duke, took a different approach, developing a microrobot that responds to electrostatic potential and is powered with voltage through an electric-array surface. Now he and others have demonstrated that they are able to control a group of these microrobots to create large shapes. They do this by tweaking the design of each robot a little so that each one responds to portions of the voltage with a different action, resulting in complex behaviors by the swarm.

So far, Paprotny has been able to control up to four robots on a single surface at once, and the robots can move several thousand times their body length per second, as detailed in a paper that is currently submitted for review. His next plan is to adapt the setup for a liquid environment so that the microrobots can assemble components of biological tissue into patterns that mimic nature.

I'm reminded of the nanomachine swarm from Stanislaw Lem's The Invincible:

"What is the nature of this cloud? What is your opinion?" he asked without any introductory remarks.

"It is made up of tiny metal particles. A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center," answered Jazon.

...I believe them to be very tiny pseudo insects that, if necessary, and for their common good, can unite to form a superordinate system (Read more about nanomachine swarm team)

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/3/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...' - Martin Caidin, 1972.

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...' - James P. Hogan, 1979.

China Delivery Robot Development Quickens During COVID-2019 Outbreak
'Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...'

Virtual Whitney Houston In Concert
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Robot Teaches Itself To Walk
'My whole idea is to get away from a machine with a set of prearranged instructions, and let them teach themselves by trial and error.'

DARPA's Subterranean Challenge
Let the machines explore the underground city!

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.