Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mini robots to undertake major tasks?

24.02.2006


From cell manipulation to micro assembly, micro robots devised by an international team of researchers offer a glimpse of the future.



The MICRON project team, led by the Institute for Process Control and Robotics (IPR), Karlsruhe, Germany, brought together eight international partners. Funded under the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, MICRON set out to build a total of five to ten micro robots, just cubic centimetres in size.

“Each one would measure about 1.5cm by 3 cm,” says IPR´s Joerg Seyfried. “They were designed to be complete robots, with different kinds of actuators for gripping, cell manipulation, and so on. Each one would be wireless, with lots of electronics on board, and an infrared control system – rather like a TV remote, but two-way in this case. They would be able to cooperate together on a range of tasks.”


Building the robots involved developing many custom applications, he adds. “One of these was the wireless powering system, the ‘power floor’, which allows the robot to get energy from its surroundings,” he says. “It uses a coil system to transmit the electricity through the air.”

The robots were designed as part of a networked system: “The individual robots are not that intelligent,” explains Seyfried. “They don’t, for example, know where they are, although they know which direction they are moving in. We developed a special positioning system, so that we know where each robot is. It views them from 40 to 50 cm above. They are controlled by a central robot control system, with several networked computers for planning and commands – this could theoretically control many robots.”

The hardest part of the project was “getting the hardware integrated and running – our goal was to have five robots operational, but this couldn’t be done in our three-year timeframe owing to the extreme complexity of the task,” he says.

Nevertheless, the one fully functional robot that the project did achieve could be tested in three different scenarios. “The first was a medical or biological application, in which the robot was handling biological cells, injecting liquid into them,” Seyfried explains. “The second scenario was micro-assembly, in which the robot soldered tiny parts. The final scenario looked at atomic force, with the robot mounting atomic force and doing experiments on it.”

The results were encouraging. “Our experiments showed that the cell injection is entirely feasible, as is the micro soldering,” says Seyfried. Although the MICRON robots are clearly not a mass market product, commercialisation – though still far off – would be perfectly possible, he believes: “Robots with this sort of capability, and mobility, would be perfectly suited to lab work, such as the micro assembly of prototypes. Tasks such as cell injection could be performed on a mass scale.”

With MICRON now having run its course, the project team is currently working on the project reports and evaluation. “What’s missing is the integration work, and this is what we will try to do next within the [also FET-funded] I-Swarm project,” says Seyfried. “This will build on MICRON to produce robots with a ‘swarm’ intelligence – that is, with limited capabilities, but able to communicate with each other.”

The tiny robots of science fiction tales might be smarter, but, as Seyfried points out, “We’re working on the smallest size range currently being worked on by a few other groups worldwide – like MIT. On a European level, MICRON is unique.”

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/80703

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

World first for reading digitally encoded synthetic molecules

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>