Tiny electromagnetic robot runs fast and re-forms after being squished

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A squishy robot smaller than a postage stamp can run 70 of its body lengths every second – more than three times faster than a cheetah, relative to its body size.

“It is really, really fast and, to be honest, that was a little bit of a surprise,” says Martin Kaltenbrunner at Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria. “We actually bought a better version of a high-speed camera during the experiment because the one we had wasn’t good enough.”

He and his colleagues made the ultra-fast soft robot out of a rubbery material and controlled it with electric currents and a magnetic field. They hope it will eventually be used in medicine, for delivering drugs or performing procedures inside the human body.

The robot is made of an elastic material curled into an upside-down U-shape with embedded metal wires running through it. When electric currents in those wires interact with a magnetic field in the robot’s environment, it moves.

The researchers connected the robot to copper wires and placed it next to a large magnet. They also controlled it in an untethered mode, starting the currents with a backpack-like battery mounted on top of the robot. The team tested two different shapes for the robot’s feet, one L-shaped and one shaped like a sawtooth to imitate the way animals’ claws provide traction.

More: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2332773-tiny-electromagnetic-robot-runs-fast-and-re-forms-after-being-squished/


FiveWordsForTheFuture - Aug 24, 2022 | Metameterials, New Materials, Robotics
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