10 Incredible Micro-Robots

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Engineers and programmers are constantly at work dreaming up and creating tiny robots. Some emerge as incredibly useful tools, while others exist only as grand ideas.

Either way, here are 10 of the greatest micro-robots.

Number 10. Kilobot. Hundreds, even thousands, of machines working together as one is a great idea, especially when they’re able to organize and arrange themselves. Swarm technology has proven difficult to perfect due to cost, so this group of minis was created on the cheap for testing purposes.

Number 9. Magnetically actuated mini-robots. They’re made to built stuff, including other robots. Even more impressive is that they could perform that task in space, as their movements aren’t dependent upon gravity. The little bots are guided by magnets, which gives them greater dexterity and flexibility.

Number 8. Micro-scallops. These itsy-bitsy swimmers are designed to navigate the body’s various liquids like blood and eyeball gunk. Aquatic skills aren’t typically high the list of robot skills, but thanks to the unique nature of bodily fluids, these little guys may someday be able to deliver medications to exactly where they’re needed.

Number 7. Micro-bees. With populations of honeybees plummeting, scientists are looking for alternative means of pollinating crops. Conservation efforts for the real ones are underway, but in the event the problem is unfixable, researchers expect to be able to get the robotic version up and flying in about 10 years.

Number 6. Flapping robot. Many insects are great flyers, but their complex movements are hard to replicate. Jellyfish, on the other hand, are simple creatures. By mimicking their movements, researchers were able to make a stable machine that can take to the air unburdened by tricky mechanics.

Number 5. Bridge inspectors. Humans do what they can, but in a lot of cases they’re just too big to really get a good look in nooks, crannies, and crevasses. Enter the quarter-sized machine that can access tight spots and easily travel over bolts and rivets, even when it’s raining.

Number 4. The Mab. The Jetson’s had their faithful robot Rosie, but people of the future may be turning to the cleaning skills of Mab instead. The design competition winner deploys an army of scrubbers and dusters to make a home sparkly and fresh.

Number 3. miBots. Microscopes are wonderful for inspecting things invisible to the naked eye, but they’re useless when it comes to moving the matter around. That’s where this little device comes in handy. Between its joystick control and small probe, it gets the tiny but tough job done.

Number 2. Mini-printer. Printers take up a lot of valuable desktop real estate, but there is a smaller solution. About the size of a coffee cup, this inkjet produces words and images by travelling back and forth across a piece of paper.

Number 1. DNA nanobots. If genetic material is sequenced just right, it can create a microscopic structure capable of following a prescribed path and delivering a destination-specific payload. Hopes for the development are high, as someday they could be useful in seeking and destroying cancer cells without damaging healthy ones nearby.

Which micro-robot do you think is the most amazing?

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