Robotic Crab Tinier than a Flea Becomes the Smallest-ever Remote-controlled Robot

The remarkable record-breaking micro machine was developed by engineers at Northwestern University and comes in the form of a tiny peekytoe crab. The same team also developed millimeter-sized robots resembling inchworms, crickets, and beetles.

Although the research is exploratory at the moment, they believe the technology might bring the field of robotics closer to realizing micro-sized robots that can perform practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces. The researchers also produced a winged microchip last year that was the smallest-ever human-made flying structure.

“Robotics is an exciting field of research, and the development of microscale robots is a fun topic for academic exploration,” says bioelectronics pioneer Professor John Rogers, who led the experimental work, in a university release.

“You might imagine micro-robots as agents to repair or assemble small structures or machines in industry or as surgical assistants to clear clogged arteries, to stop internal bleeding or to eliminate cancerous tumors — all in minimally invasive procedures.”

“Our technology enables a variety of controlled motion modalities and can walk with an average speed of half its body length per second,” adds Yonggang Huang, who led the theoretical work. “This is very challenging to achieve at such small scales for terrestrial robots.”

Smaller than a flea, the crab is not powered by complex hardware, hydraulics, or electricity. Instead, Prof. Rogers explains that its power lies within the elastic resilience of its body.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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