Smallest Robot Ever

All you need to know about the tiniest ever robot - A robotic crab

Have you heard of the smallest robot ever? Engineers from North Western University have created a remote-controlled walking robot that's regarded as the smallest ever robot. It is just a half-millimeter and looks like an adorable peekytoe crab. Although the research is in the paper and discussion, researchers believe that this could be a great start to exploring the possibilities of micro-sized robots that can be used to perform practical tasks inside a confined environment.

It only measures half a millimeter!

Measuring only half a millimeter, this tiny robot can bend, crawl, flex, walk, run, and even jump! Along with creating the tiniest crab robot, they have also developed other robots resembling crickets, beetles, and inchworms. This team also created a microchip winged robot that was regarded as the smallest ever-human-made flying structure.

John A. Rogers, the lead in this experimental work, said, "Robotics is an exciting field of research, and the development of microscale robots is a fun topic for academic exploration." “You might imagine micro-robots as agents to repair or assemble small structures or machines in industry or as surgical assistants to clear clogged arteries, to stop internal bleeding or to eliminate cancerous tumors -- all in minimally invasive procedures."

Key members in the research

Some of the key members in this research are Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, a pioneer in bioelectronics, and Rogers. Jan and Marcia Achenbach, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering at McCormick and a key member of QSIB, Huang is another key person.

How is the tiniest robot made?

The tiniest crab robot is not powered by complex hardware, electricity, or hydraulics. The elastic resilience is what makes it a functional robot. The researchers employed a shape-memory alloy material to build the robot, which converts to its "remembered" shape when heated. The researchers utilized a scanning laser beam to quickly heat the robot at several specific spots across its body in this scenario. When cooled, a thin layer of glass restores that bent section of the structure to its original shape.

The robot moves from one phase to the next, from distorted to memorized shape and back again. The laser remotely controls the robot to activate it and sets the robot's walking orientation. For example, scanning from left to right leads the robot to move from right to left. Using this manufacturing approach, the Northwestern team could create robots of all forms and sizes.