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 Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside
27.02.2017 | FernUniversität in Hagen

nachricht Deep Learning predicts hematopoietic stem cell development
21.02.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>