Researchers at Stanford University have taken inspiration from ants and geckos to create tiny robots that can move thousands of times their weight. Through the modification of micro-robots currently on the market, the team was able to do some pretty incredible research into how tiny things move huge objects first reported on by the New York Times. The micro-robots can move 2000 times their own weight, but through the use of teamwork, this ability is increased. Check out the video below to see just what the robots are capable of!
A unique adhesive was developed to resemble the functionality of gecko’s feet which was then applied to the varying bases of each robot. It was found that the best way for the tiny robots to work together was through using a long, slow, winching gate process. This proved so effective in fact that 6 small robots weighing only 100 grams were able to pull an 1,800 kg car which can be seen in the video above.
While on an individual basis each robot exerts only a small amount of force, when constructively combined with the other’s efforts incredible weights can be moved. Applying these forces over a long period of time seems counter-intuitive to applying large forces quickly, much like a jackhammer would. However, it was exactly this out of the box idea that has shaped the research being done at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford.
[Image Source: Stanford Youtube]
This research will lead scientists to perhaps grasping the incredible strength seen in ants and other insects. While primitive, the current study may lay the framework for how future microbots are able to work together to accomplish much larger tasks. It has long been known that many insects use teamwork to collect food and ward off enemies, but recreating this ability in a lab is something that is only now starting to be developed.