This advance in soft robotics could lead to breakthroughs in internal medicine. These tiny spiders could someday be crawling inside patients performing delicate medical procedures. Via Digital Trends:
In a paper published recently in the journal Advanced Materials, a team of roboticists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Boston University report that they’ve created these multifunctional microbots thanks to a new fabrication process that lets them build millimeter-scale machines with micrometer-scale features. Similarly sized robots have been created before, but not ones as dynamic as this. To demonstrate their breakthrough, they created a transparent spider bot modeled off of the brilliant Australian peacock spider.
“The idea of designing and fabricating a soft robot inspired by the peacock spider comes from the fact that this small insect embodies a large number of unsolved challenges in soft robotics,” Tommaso Ranzani, an assistant professor at Boston University and first author of the study, told Digital Trends. “Indeed it is less than a centimeter wide, has features down to the micron scale, a well defined three-dimensional structure, and a large number of independently controllable degrees of freedom in only a couple of centimeters width. In addition, it is characterized by beautiful color patterns. We saw here an opportunity to advance the manufacturing capabilities in small-scale soft robotics and to demonstrate the capabilities of our process.”