Never forget that robots are not only four-legged mechanisms like SpotMini, which are able to open doors and perform various acrobatic tricks. In addition to them, engineers are also developing mechanisms that, thanks to their tiny size, can move inside living organisms and deliver drugs to hard-to-reach places. Researchers from the école Polytechnique de Lausanne and the école technique de Zurich have created a robot microbe that adapts to different types of fluids and can float even in blood vessels.
The lead author of the project, Selman Sakar, said that when creating the external structure of the robot, they were based on the principles of kirigami — the Japanese art of making figures with paper and scissors. Thanks to its flexible design, the robot is able to move even inside narrow blood vessels without any loss of speed.
Our robot has a special composition and structure that allows it to adapt to the characteristics of the liquid through which it moves. For example, if it encounters a change in viscosity or concentration of dissolved particles, it changes its shape to maintain speed and maneuverability without losing control of the direction of travel.
Robot microbe is made of nanocomposite filled with material with tightly bound polymer mesh — this is what gives it a special elasticity. Instead of equipping it with rather large sensors and a battery, the researchers adopted magnetic nanoparticles that react to changes in electric fields. This gave them the ability to program robots to warp.
In nature, there are many microorganisms that change their shape as environmental conditions change. It was this principle that inspired us to develop micro robots.
The researchers stressed that due to the minimum of necessary components, the production of such robots is very cheap. They intend to constantly improve their design so that they can move in the most complex fluids.