A small robot that can walk at the same pace as humans and dance in water has been developed. While the robot sounds like a fun toy, it is intended to help several scientific causes.
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a tiny robot that behaves like an aquatic animal, and it is hoped that it could be an asset in multiple studies.
The robot is only a centimetre in size, but it has some incredible abilities that could make it a game-changer in the delivering of therapeutics and catalysing of chemical reactions.
The small robot is made up of protein, rather than traditional machinery, and moves through the water by responding to an external rotating magnetic field. This means that with the help of a light source the machine can grab items, walk at the same pace as a human and even dance to release stickier objects.
Monica Olvera de la Cruz, who led the theoretical work behind the study, described how the machine works:
By combining walking and steering motions together, we can program specific sequences of magnetic fields, which remotely operate the robot and direct it to follow paths on flat or inclined surfaces.
Interestingly, the robot could also be developed to be even smaller. It is hoped that the robot could be made at a microscopic level and be used to deliver medication more accurately for patients. While some may be concerned about a break-dancing robot delivering medication, it seems that the machine offers a unique proposition.
In a press statement, the leader of the research, Samuel I. Stupp, explained what made this technology different:
Conventional robots are typically heavy machines with lots of hardware and electronics that are unable to interact safely with soft structures, including humans.
We have designed soft materials with molecular intelligence to enable them to behave like robots of any size and perform useful functions in tiny spaces, underwater or underground.
The robot still needs further development to complete complex tasks. Nonetheless, on the back of this study, it will be interesting to see how the possibly microscopic technology can be applied in the world.
Nanobots being used within the body is becoming an increasingly popular concept among researchers. With that said, it may take a while for the technology is delivered and even longer before the public excepts the prospect of having foreign entities flowing through their body.
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