Stanford University resident researchers made the news when their tiny bots were displayed for the public to see. Finding their inspiration in the world of geckos, inchworms and ants, the Stanford team developed impressivily skilled new bots.
What is so awe striking about these tiny machines is that they seem to be the superheroes of bot world. A 9 gram bot was designed to pull one kilogram on a vertical surface, yet another weighing only 20 milligrams is able to carry 500 milligrams and then there is the μTug.
μTug is the most impressive in both built and strength conveyed to it by its creator. This mini robot weighs only 12 grams, but can carry more than 2000 times its own weight. Imagine that!
The MicroTugs as they are called by Christensen and Hawkes, the team that developed them, have been designed in the Biometrics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory of the Stanford University, using a new technology that goes by the name controllable adhesive. It is a technology that was „stolen” from the animal world, mostly from the cute geckos.
The New Scientist reports that the technology works as follows: „The adhesives are covered in minute rubber spikes that griply firm onto the wall as the robot climbs. When pressure is applied, the spikes bend, increasing their surface area and thus their stickiness. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach easily.”
On the funny side of the story, Mr. Hawkes was spotted last year climbing the glass walls of a building in Stanford University campus in order to test the developments that were part of his dissertation. It seems he got brilliant results as the bots are now an attraction and, as some may argue, an amazing new asset to technology research and robotics.
No doubt the MicroTugs deserve all the attention they are currently getting. The μTug which is only 12 grams and can carry up to 2000 times his weight is, according to the MicroTug webpage: „the equivalent of a human adult dragging a blue whale around on land”.
The MicroTugs will be on display at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle. It is hoped that these mini bots will be developed for industrial used in the near future. The Stanford team said their value could reach full potention in emergency situations, or in construction sites for heavy lifting and carrying.
Image Source: hi-news.ru