Microrobot To Swim Like Bacteria With Flagellar Propeller
Tiny microrobots are under development at Monash University in Australia; a remarkable micromotor will allow them to swim using a flagellar propeller, just like the E. coli bacterium shown below.
(E. coli bacterium powered by flagella)
Dr. James Friend's goal is to build a device no wider than 250 microns - that's the width of two human hairs - that would be capable of swimming through the human body.
He and his team have already built a linear motor the size of a salt crystal. With a $300,000 grant from the Australian Research Council, Dr. Friend believes that his team will be able to reduce the motor to the necessary size within three years.
(Dr. James Friend with micromotor apparatus)
According to Dr. Friend, the main difference between the microrobot motor and a conventional electromagnetic type is that the latter spins much faster but has much less torque. In an email interview with Technovelgy.com, he remarked:
"The swimming robot idea in and of itself has indeed been around a long time---since at least the 1950's anyway, and our motor is of a scale and has the performance characteristics needed to actually make this sort of thing possible.
A design for the prototype microrobot is shown below; Dr. Friend states "We've operating larger mm-sized prototypes of the motor, and have a fairly good handle on the analysis, which turns out to be quite complicated for twisted-beam
Regarding performance, as electromagnetic (EM) motors are reduced in size, they tend to have far higher rotation speeds: a typical 3 mm diameter EM motor will spin at over 20,000 rpm. Worse, the torque of such motors could be measured in micronewton-mm, only useful if one also employs a gearbox. We're using ultrasonic motor technology here,
which offer higher torques at lower speeds. Traditionally that has always been the limitation of any of this technology: the motor. If you pick up a typical electronic parts catalogue, you'll find all sorts of sensors and electrical components, but very few of them actually produce physical motion. Those that do are certainly not solid state, and this is a need we're hoping to address."
(Microrobot design [Dr. James Friend])
The micromotor that Dr. Friend and his team have designed for their propulsion system should be smaller overall than a similar microrobot propulsion system described earlier this month by Dr. Moshe Shoham (see Propulsion System for 'Fantastic Voyage' Robot). Dr. Friend points out that his team has a "motor suitable for his [Shoham's] or our propulsion system that is far smaller than the technology he's [Shoham's] wanting to use."
Ultimately, tiny microrobots would give surgeons the ability to avoid traumatic and risky procedures in some cases. A remotely-controlled microrobot would extend a physician's ability to diagnose and treat patients in a minimally invasive way.
Other sources for this story include this article and this Monash University press release.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/29/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.
MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...' - JG Ballard, 1962.
Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day. Speaking as someone who as done this, I welcome robots.
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.
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.
Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?
Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'
Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'
Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.
Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'
Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.
Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?
Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'
WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'
Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'
Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'
Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...
Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'
GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.
Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.
MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories