Versatile Robot that Can Manoeuvre Through any Environment

Scientist and doctors are constantly researching new ways to effectively treat patients with new developing technologies. The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, have created the millirobot. This device is able to walk, crawl, and roll through various environments and has the ability to transport medicine.

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What is This Little Thing?

This little vehicle is only 4 millimeters long and is made up of silicon, allowing the robot to maneuver around complex terrains. Additionally, it has the ability to be used in various locomotive modes. For example, it can swim on and in liquids, or walk and crawl on solid surfaces.  

Metin Sitti, director of the Physical Intelligence Department, reveals that the robot’s design was inspired by: “a mix of several soft creatures such as beetle larvae and caterpillars. “However, a spermatozoid and a jellyfish also served as models.” Additionally, Sitti comments, that it was also inspired by soft-body biological organisms and the mechanics of the way they move.

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How it Moves

The Scientist have implanted magnetic microparticles in the flexible silicone material allowing the robot to be controlled using an external magnetic field. The robot can maneuver in different ways based on the strength of the magnetism.

Further, Sitti states the robot can, “complete an obstacle course similar to what would be encountered in the human body: it can walk or roll across surfaces, jump across obstacles, crawl through narrow tubes and swim on or in liquids. In addition, it can grasp objects, transport them and deposit them at defined locations.”

A New Way to Transport Medicine

The main goal of the millirobot is to transport medicine where it is needed. The doctors would place the robot non-invasively by having the patients swallow it or by inserting it through a small opening in the skin. Without surgery, it is currently not possible to gain access to many areas of the body. Our objective is to make these regions accessible non-invasively using our soft millirobot to perform diagnosis and therapy,” says Metin Sitti.

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For more details, check their university website.