pre-nano: Mini robotics

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. 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.”

The results were encouraging. “Our experiments showed that the cell injection is entirely feasible, as is the micro soldering,” says Seyfried. Although the MICRON robots are clearly not a mass market product, commercialisation – though still far off – would be perfectly possible, he believes: “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.”

Other research is occuring at the University of Berkeley and other institutions

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