Researchers at Nanyang University of Technology, Singapore, have developed miniature robots that are highly maneuverable and can move quickly in six degrees of freedom. These small devices are magnetic and can be controlled by a system of electromagnetic coils that accurately manipulates the direction and strength of magnetic fields. Researchers hope their technology could pave the way for small surgical robots that could access hard-to-reach areas of the body, such as the brain.
Currently, microrobots are an important focus for researchers and their potential in the biomedical field is important. It would be very useful small robots that can enter our body and perform complex tasks, but to achieve this requires some innovation and persistence. This latest development shows very maneuverable and skillful robots, an impressive feat as they are about the size of a grain of rice.
Robots can move in six degrees of freedom (DoF), that is, they can move along the rotation of three space axes. Although this has been achieved in small previous robots, current devices can perform these movements very quickly, achieving specific movements that are 43 times faster than those of previous devices and with significantly increased torque.
“My team tried to discover the fundamental working principles of miniature robots that have six DoF movements through this work,” Lum Guo Zhan, a researcher involved in the study, said in a press release. “By fully understanding the physics of these miniature robots, we can now accurately control their movements. In addition, our proposed manufacturing method can magnetize these robots to produce pairs of six DoFs from 51 to 297 folds larger than other existing devices. Our findings are therefore fundamental and represent a significant advance for small-scale robotic technologies. ”
Magnetic devices can be made of soft materials, enhancing their potential for use in the body, and are controlled by precise changes in the strength and direction of an applied magnetic field. The devices are also dexterous and can be tightened in tight places, suggesting that they can access hard-to-reach areas. For example, a jellyfish-type robot was able to go through a narrow opening when it was suspended in water.
With another design, a clamp robot, the researchers were able to build a 3D structure by collecting and assembling various structural components. “In addition to surgery, our robots can also be useful in biomedical applications, such as mounting on-chip laboratory devices that can be used for clinical diagnosis by integrating multiple laboratory processes into a single chip,” he said. said Xu Changyu, another researcher involved in the research.
Watch the new robots in this video:
Study a Advanced materials: Small-scale magnetic actuators with six degrees of optimal freedom