All-terrain microbot moves by tumbling over complex topography

ScienceDaily | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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The "microscale magnetic tumbling robot," or μTUM (microTUM), is about 400 by 800 microns, or millionths of a meter, smaller than the head of a pin. A continuously rotating magnetic field propels the microbot in an end-over-end or sideways tumbling motion, which helps the microbot traverse uneven surfaces such as bumps and trenches, a difficult feat for other forms of motion.

"The μTUM is capable of traversing complex terrains in both dry and wet environments," said David Cappelleri, an associate professor in Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering and director of Purdue's Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab.

Findings - Research - Paper - Feb - Journal

Findings are detailed in a research paper published online Feb. 3 in the journal Micromachines. The paper was authored by Purdue graduate student Chenghao Bi; postdoctoral research associate Maria Guix; doctoral student Benjamin V. Johnson; Wuming Jing, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technological University; and Cappelleri.

The flat, roughly dumbbell-shaped microbot is made of a polymer and has two magnetic ends. A non-magnetic midsection might be used to carry cargo such as medications. Because the bot functions well in wet environments, it has potential biomedical applications.

Robotics - Represent - Frontiers - Automation - Systems

"Robotics at the micro- and nano-scale represent one of the new frontiers in intelligent automation systems," Cappelleri said. "In particular, mobile microrobots have recently emerged as viable candidates for biomedical applications, taking advantage of their small size, manipulation, and autonomous motion capabilities. Targeted drug delivery is one of the key applications of these nano- and microrobots."

Drug-delivery microbots might be used in conjunction with ultrasound to guide them to their destination in the body.

Researchers - Machine - Performance - Inclines - Degrees

Researchers studied the machine's performance when traversing inclines as steep as 60 degrees, demonstrating an impressive climbing capability in both wet and dry environments.

"The ability to climb is important because surfaces in the human body are complex," Guix said. "It's bumpy, it's sticky."

Ideal - Technology

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