If anyone suggests having micro spider-like robots, living under the skin people might think them insane. However, people may actually want them to get under their skin, as they might be able to help fix the body when it begins to stop working, as it should.
Soft, Squishy Microrobots Might Undertake Tasks Humans Cannot
The robots in question are spider-like microbots researchers are developing that might one day be able to crawl around the body of humans. The robots are soft, they are squishy and flexible, plus they look a lot like spiders. While they are not yet ready to go around mending the bodies of humans just yet, future versions of them might be able to undertake tasks that humans would not be able to achieve.
A team of roboticists working at the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Boston University and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have created such robots.
New Fabrication Process Means Robots Can Be Just Millimeters
The team got together to create microrobots based on a new fabrication process allowing them to make machines that are millimeters in scale while having features that are micrometer. This is not the first time that robots of this size have been created. However, robots in the past of equal size have not been as dynamic. The team made a spider bot that is transparent, which they based around the Australian peacock spider, to show off the robot.
Assistant professor, Rommaso Ranzani, from Boston University said:
“The idea of designing along with fabricating a soft robot inspired by the peacock spider comes from the fact that this small insect embodies a large number of unsolved challenges in soft robotics.” He went on to say, “Indeed it is less than a centimeter wide, has features down to the micron scale, a well-defined three-dimensional structure, and a large number of independently controllable degrees of freedom in only a couple of centimeters width. In addition, it is characterized by beautiful color patterns. We saw here an opportunity to advance the manufacturing capabilities in small-scale soft robotics and to demonstrate the capabilities of our process.”
The team came up with an approach to fabrication called “Morph” also known as Microfluidic Origami for Reconfigurable Pneumatic/Hydraulic. To make the robot the researchers put 12 layers of elastic silicone together to make up the legs, the abdomen, and torso of the spider robot. They then used processes including laser-micro-machining in order to ensure the measurements were precise.
The Process Leads to Robots That Mimic Real Life Spiders
The resulting micro-spider can flex its joints along with moving its legs. It is even capable of raising its abdomen just as the real Peacock spider does in real life. The spider works by injecting micro fluids into hollow channels that run from the abdomen on the spider down into the legs.
The team believes that the robotic spiders manufacturing process might lead to Microbots with soft and dynamic bodies one day being able to undertake medical tasks that are extremely delicate inside the bodies of human beings. The robots may also be capable of undertaking search along with rescue missions, which are too dangerous for humans.