A team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed millimeter-sized robots that can be controlled using magnetic fields to perform agile and dexterous manipulations.
Singaporean researchers have created miniature robots by embedding magnetic microparticles in biocompatible polymers – non-toxic materials that are harmless to humans. Robots are programmed to perform specific functions when exposed to magnetic fields.
New miniature NTU robots move 43 times faster than their counterparts. In addition, they are made from “soft” materials – they float like jellyfish, and are also capable of grabbing, placing and sorting miniature objects.
According to the NTU team, miniature robots about the size of a grain of rice are being used for expeditions into confined spaces that existing robots cannot reach. It is noted that makes them especially useful in the field of medicine.
Using a jellyfish-inspired robot, scientists have shown how it swims quickly through a tight hole in an obstacle.
Another robot that can grab objects, the researchers assembled a three-dimensional structure.
The operator remotely controls the movements of the robots using the program. It regulates the strength and direction of the magnetic fields generated by the electromagnetic coil system.
Details on how miniature robots work are described in an article for the Advanced Materials magazine.