With approximately two millimeters long, the size of the smallest ant in the world, these robots that respond to different vibration frequencies depending on their configurations could work together to detect environmental changes, move materials, or maybe one day repair injuries inside the human body.
An article describing these bots has been accepted for publication. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. You can see them in action below.
Conceived by Georgia Tech researchers and through 3D printing, bots can cover four times their own length in a second despite the physical limitations of their small size.
The bots move taking advantage of the vibration of piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources or even small speakers. The actuator generates vibration and is powered externally because no battery is small enough to fit in the robot. The vibrations move the elastic legs up and down, pushing the micro-bot forward.
As he explains Azadeh Ansari, assistant professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the Georgia Institute of Technology:
We are working to make the technology robust, and we have many potential applications in mind. We are working at the intersection of mechanics, electronics, biology and physics. It is a very rich area and there is plenty of room for multidisciplinary concepts.