Friday, February 24, 2006

Mini Robots for Lab Teamwork

Funded under the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, MICRON set out to build a total of five to ten micro robots, just cubic centimetres in size.

“Each one would measure about 1.5cm by 3 cm,” says Joerg Seyfried of Institute for Process Control and Robotics (IPR). “They were designed to be complete robots, with different kinds of actuators for gripping, cell manipulation, and so on. Each one would be wireless, with lots of electronics on board, and an infrared control system. They would be able to cooperate together on a range of tasks.”

“...our goal was to have five robots operational, but this couldn’t be done in our three-year timeframe owing to the extreme complexity of the task,” he says.

The one fully functional robot that the project did achieve could be tested in three different scenarios. “The first was a medical or biological application, in which the robot was handling biological cells, injecting liquid into them,” Seyfried explains. “The second scenario was micro-assembly, in which the robot soldered tiny parts. The final scenario looked at atomic force, with the robot mounting atomic force and doing experiments on it.”

“Our experiments showed that the cell injection is entirely feasible, as is the micro soldering,” says Seyfried.
“Robots with this sort of capability, and mobility, would be perfectly suited to lab work, such as the micro assembly of prototypes. Tasks such as cell injection could be performed on a mass scale.”

IST Results - Mini robots to undertake major tasks?


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