Tiny robots carry up to 2,000 times their own weight

Here’s another link from my Dad – we really need to get him down to Code Club one evening, we have turned him into quite a geek!

Only one question for this post – who can think of a way to get us all to the International Conference on Robotics and Automation taking place in Seattle next month? And do you think Mrs G & Mrs H would mind if you missed your Sats to attend?! Seriously though, some very interesting stuff here, drawing on nature for inspiration.

“Tiny robots that can pull objects up to 2,000 times their own weight have been developed at Stanford University.

The miniature robots – dubbed MicroTugs – have power equivalent to a human dragging a blue whale, according to the website detailing the development.

The scientists behind the MicroTugs took inspiration from nature, borrowing techniques used by geckos and ants in their design.

The robots could be used in factories or on building sites.

The team at Stanford, including PhD students David Christensen and Elliot Hawkes, demonstrated a 9g robot that can carry more than 1kg vertically up glass. This is equivalent to a human climbing a skyscraper while carrying an elephant.

Another one – that weighs just 20mg but can carry 500mg, was so tiny it had to be built under a microscope, using tweezers to put the parts together.

The secret to the robots’ strength lies in their sticky feet – which is copied from geckos, some of nature’s most adept climbers.

“The hardest part in the development of these guys was coming to the realization that this was possible,” Mr Christensen told the BBC.

He had worked on making things with the adhesive before but had not considered combining it with robotics.

“When we stepped back and thought about it, this was actually a really great use for our adhesives, with its tiny contact force required, and ability to engage and disengage many times a second,” he said.

David Christensen and Elliot Hawkes
The engineers think the robots could also be used in emergency situations

The team covered the robot’s feet with tiny rubber spikes that bend and stick to a surface. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach.

“It was a really fun project to work on, seeing these robots in action for the first time was pretty incredible,” said Mr Christensen.

The next step, he said, would be about “looking at ways to make multiples of them work together as a team, and scaling the technology up to larger bots with more industrial parts and a whole lot more force”.

The Pentagon’s research unit Darpa is working on a similar technique that could allow a man to scale a wall with no climbing equipment, rather like Spiderman. It’s Z-Man programme was shared with the public in 2014 although it has been in development for several years.

The MicroTug robots will be on show at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation taking place in Seattle next month.”

From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-32495269

 

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About nic schofield

I’m a primary schools computing technician, interested in teaching children, their teachers & their parents, about IoT, computational thinking and implications of technology on their lives and encouraging children to think critically about technology to influence change in the world.

7 thoughts on “Tiny robots carry up to 2,000 times their own weight

  1. I think that it most of the weight goes to the feet because of the spikes allow it not to sink or fall. I don’t get is how the how the spikes let it stay up.

    Anisa

      

  2. I think that if we make a mini robot like that which can carry more than what the other mini robot we will get in but we have to realize this is possible because that is the hardest part.The weight is only focused on the feet which is like geckos feet.There are spikes on the wheels which stick to the ground which stops it from sinking and falling because of the weight.

      

  3. I think that the legs take all the weight allowing it to lift heavy things easier and the grip on the ground so it wont fall over.

      

  4. I think this is awesome! I think that we could make something even better, but we just have to realize that this is possible! Everything is possible! That is the hardest part. We must focus! We can do this!

      

  5. these are awesome it would be great for transporting heavy objects and other stuff.
    😀

      

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