SRI microrobots show fast-building factory approach (w/ video)

Apr 17, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog
SRI microrobots show fast-building factory approach (w/ video)

( —SRI International, a research center that conducts client-sponsored research and development for government and other organizations, is attracting attention for work on what micro-factories might accomplish in the future, with micro-robots coordinated to go to work building products. SRI's ant-like microrobots in large numbers can reliably handle solid and liquid materials, including electronics. The micro-robots were designed to suggest a better way to assemble components and small structures.

IEEE Spectrum reported on what these swarms of magnetically actuated microrobots, can accomplish when they work together, noting how they are versatile and able to collaborate in large swarms. SRI's robots are built from simple, low-cost magnets. Quoted in Technology Review, Annjoe Wong-Foy, senior research engineer at SRI, said, "We can scale to many more robots at low cost."

The SRI technique involves printed circuit boards (PCBs) that drive and control the micro-robots, This is a distinguishing SRI feature. IEEE Spectrum said driving their robots around on , including flexible ones, can keep the magnetic fields localized; they are not only finely controllable but fast.

Tom Simonite in Technology Review on Wednesday wrote about the design: "They can move only when placed on a surface with a specific pattern of electrical circuits inside," he wrote. "Sending current through the coils beneath exerts a force on the magnets and steers the robots around." Wong-Foy wrote software to do that, and used it to choreograph the movement of tiny robots in a complex circulating pattern, showing it should be possible for them to work in large teams.

Simonite said Wong-Foy's robotic workers have already proved capable of building towers 30 centimeters long from carbon rods and other platforms able to support a kilogram of weight. The robots work with glass, metal, wood, and electronic components.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Magnetically Actuated Micro-Robots for Advanced Manipulation Applications

SRI currently is applying its micro-factory technology to the DARPA Open Manufacturing program. DARPA said it created the program "to lower the cost and speed the delivery of high-quality manufactured goods with predictable performance."

The program aims for a manufacturing framework that captures "factory-floor and materials processing variability and integrates probabilistic computational tools, informatics systems and rapid qualification approaches."

In a video showing the microrobots in action. The video showed the ant-like robots climbing straight up walls, and travelling in any orientation on flex circuits. The video also showed 73 robots performing coordinated moves, at 19 moves/sec each. The total system rate was 1386 moves/sec. Also shown were two robots gluing together carbon fiber rods.

SRI's patented "Diamagnetic Micro Manipulation (DM3)" technology is available as a research platform for universities and other researchers to explore new applications for . Potential applications include pick-and-place manufacturing solutions, rapid prototyping of parts, electronics manufacturing, such as optoelectronics and hybrid circuits, microfluidics, lab on a chip, and tissue manufacturing, compact diagnostic and inspection equipment and anti-fouling devices.

SRI International was founded as Stanford Research Institute by Stanford University in 1946 and SRI became independent of the university in 1970.

Explore further: As fast as their tiny 'bot' legs will carry them (w/ video)

More information:… -smart-manufacturing… n_Manufacturing.aspx

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

Apr 16, 2014

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

Jun 17, 2011

( -- When you think about robots, the odds are that you think about something that is fairly large. Maybe you picture a robot arms bolted to the floor of a factory or if you are feeling particularly ...

Mobile robots support airplane manufacturers

Apr 02, 2014

In production facilities, robots, and people will soon be working side-by-side. A new mobile assistant is intended to support technicians in the airplane manufacturing industry when applying sealant, measuring, ...

Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Tiny Robots

Aug 28, 2009

( -- Tiny robots the size of a flea could one day be mass-produced, churned out in swarms and programmed for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, medicine, cleaning, ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

3 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

16 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

16 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ... domain sold for big payout

16 hours ago

The owners of the website have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

20 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

21 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0