Home Sciences A half-millimeter crab: this is the smallest robot ever built

A half-millimeter crab: this is the smallest robot ever built


just measure half millimeter. Have ten tiny legsa slender body and the ability to adapt your body to all kinds of movements. Placed on a coin, it is so small that it is barely distinguishable between the folds of the metal. It’s a millimeter robotic crab and, as its creators explain, it is also the device mobile and remote control smallest ever built. Definitely, the smallest robot in the world. Quite an engineering achievement.

The tiny robotic crab, presented this week in the scientific journal ‘Science Robotics’, is not only surprising for its size. The great success of this project, the scientists explain, has to do with its capabilities. Starting, for example, with his motor skills. Its creators explain that the ‘little animal’ can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even skip. His movements can reach a average speed equivalent to “half the length of its body per second”. “This is very difficult to achieve at such small scales for terrestrial robots,” explains Yonggang Huang, one of the creators of this robot.

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The secret of the success of this robot, experts argue, does not reside in a complex hardware system. Nor in a state-of-the-art electric and hydraulic gear. Robotic crab ‘comes to life’ thanks to a material that transforms depending on the temperature. Exposed to heat, the crab expands. And exposed to cold, it returns to its initial form. “As the robot changes from one phase to another, it deforms, thus creating a movement,” explain the scientists in charge of its creation.

scientific achievement

The tiny robot crab that stars in this news has been created by the same team of researchers from Northwestern University that just a year ago also presented the smallest winged robot never assembled. According to the scientists, they are also working on “millimeter-sized robots that resemble caterpillars, crickets and beetlesAlthough, mind you, for now this little Noah’s Ark of miniature robotic animals is still limited to laboratories.

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“Robotics is an exciting field of research and the development of microscale robots is a fun topic for academic exploration,” explains John A. Rogers, one of the experts behind the creation of this robot. “You can think of microrobots as agents to repair or assemble small structures or as surgical assistants for clear clogged arteriesstop internal bleeding or eliminate cancerous tumors”, explains the scientist regarding the possible applications of this work.

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