Northwestern University researchers are working on (PDF link) submillimeter robots that can “walk” without complex hydraulics and other systems that could not currently be built on such a small scale.
This 8-legged crab (+2 arms) can walk sideways thanks to specially designed materials. The technology works by building legs that remember their original engineered shape. When heated with a laser, the leg changes shape and allows movement. Repeat the process and you have a “walk”.
The laser effectively controls how the robot moves, and it’s a way of offloading some of the power sources and mechanics from the robot. Depending on the material and laser power, some designs might even “jump”, but this one moves relatively slowly.
This type of technology is one of the ways tiny robots can move and is popular in the nanorobot world. It is believed that at some point these devices will be able to work in normally inaccessible places, including the human body.
It has long been suspected that nanorobots would one day perform surgical tasks in a completely non-invasive way, such as B. the destruction of tumors or the repair of tissue damage.
In sci-fi stories, you could “backup” your body’s state and have such machines continually restore it, making you virtually immortal. Fun, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
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