A new tiny folding bot was designed by MIT researchers and is now drawing a whole lot of attention.
The less than a gram weighing wonder is the first micro robot that fully completes a life cycle. That means that once it has completed its task it is programed to self-destruct, leaving no trace except the small magnet that powers its function.
It is an unusual bot for that matter, by all accounts. But with further development this particular feature could easily bring it into the medical field where it could perform medical applications without any human intervention, only to later dizolve in the bodily fluids.
The MIT research team has been working on the specifics since 2012. Now, the new tiny bot held the spotlight at the Seattle based ICRA event, where demonstration showcased what it is capable of.
Shuhei Miyashita, lead researcher disclosed that the bot is 1.7 cm long and approximately one third of a gram in weight.
What catches the eye at first is a flat tiny bot that starts folding like an origami piece once it is heated. Afterwards it can swim or move on its micro asymmetric legs with a speed of 3 cm per second.
The research team from the MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in collaboration with the Technische Universitaet Muenchen designed the tiny bot from overlapping layers of lasercut PVC, polystyrene and paper.
Underneath these layers there is a neodymium magnet integrated, as well as four electromagnetic coils that power the bot’s movements by attracting and repelling the first magnet.
These electromagnetic coils operate at short intervals at 15Hz. This drives the neodymium magnet to move and power the little feet.
The bot is not fully autonomous yet, although the team is driving their efforts in that direction:
“Such autonomous ‘4D-printed’ robots could be used at unreachable sites, including those encountered in both in vivo and bionic biological treatment”.
And they’re probably not far from achieving their goal. Currently the tiny bot dissolves in an acetone bath as instructed.
Later versions will undoubtedly feature new materials that are fully biodegradable and leave no trace behind.
Image Source: CBC