Small-scale robots—which can range in size from the millimeter scale to the nanoscale—continue to develop more and more degrees of freedom. And cargo delivery methods. One new small-scale “ultrafast” bot developed by researchers at Johannes Kepler University in Austria adds a helping of speed to the mix. In fact, for its size, the bendy bipedal-ish robot is faster than “most animals.”
“High-speed locomotion is an essential survival strategy for animals, allowing [the inhabitation of] harsh and unpredictable environments,” the researchers write in a study published in Nature Communications outlining their ultrafast robots. “Bio-inspired soft robots equally benefit from versatile and ultrafast motion but require appropriate driving mechanisms and device designs,” they add.
To that end, the researchers, including Guoyong Mao, et al. created a class of “curved” small-scale robots controlled by electromagnetic fields acting upon printed liquid metal channels embedded in their soft, elastic “bodies.” More specifically, the electromagnetic fields modulated the Lorentz forces—or the forces that act upon charged particles due to electric and magnetic fields—applied to the embedded printed liquid metal channels, which themselves carried alternating currents.