Laser-Controlled-Robot-Micro-Crab — you heard that right! No, these aren’t fictional characters out of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or your favourite Power Ranger show, but actual sub-millimetre tiny robotic crabs that can serve multiple purposes in real life and will be guided by the use of a laser.
From an article by TWC India Edit Team.
Even though they might sound intimidating at first, they are anything but. These computerised critters are the brainchild of engineers from the Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and if you haven’t felt awe before, prepare to be blown away.
The crabs are fully remote controlled and can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. That is a tremendous amount of functionality when you factor in that these half-a-millimetre robots are small enough to fit on the edge of a coin and minuscule enough to make even a flea look intimidating.
Why are they so small? John A. Rogers, one of the researchers, explains that the micro-robots have been designed so they could be used as agents to repair or assemble small structures or machines in industries. Additionally, they also hold massive potential as surgical assistants, allowing us to clear clogged arteries, stop internal bleeding or even eliminate cancerous tumours — all while being minimally invasive.
Since there clearly isn’t a lot of space to fit complex hardware into the robot, the researchers had to come up with alternate methods to control it. Therefore, electricity and circuits went out of the window, and lasers and elastic glass triumphed as the winner.
The crab is made out of a shape-alloy material that is coated with a thin layer of glass. When the shape alloy material is heated, it bends a certain way. A scanning laser provides the necessary heat for this process. And after the heat dissipates, the elastic glass pulls it back to its initial position.
Therefore, when parts of the body are heated and cooled repeatedly, it creates locomotion. Further, the direction of the locomotion can be chosen by picking the direction of the scanning motion.
For the complete article on tiny robotic crabs CLICK HERE.
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