3D Laser Scanning Services: Crab-Shaped Micro-Robots
Robotic Engineering Goes Tiny
Researchers at Northwestern University used 3D laser scanning services to develop the smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot resembling a tiny, adorable crab. It is half-millimeter wide, meaning it can walk, twist, bend, and turn.
The engineers also developed millimeter-sized robots resembling beetles, crickets, and inchworms. The research is currently in the exploratory phase. Still, researchers believe that the new technology will bring the robotic engineering space closer to realizing that robots can perform practical tasks in confined spaces. Last September, the same engineers developed the smallest-ever artificial flying structure in the form of a winged microchip.
3D Laser Scanning Services & Robotic Engineering
Robotic engineering is an exciting research field. The development of robots is fun and worth exploring. For example, micro-robots could soon be used to assemble and repair small industrial machines and structures. Surgical assistants could also use them to eliminate cancerous tumors, stop internal bleeding, and clear clogged arteries.
Micro-scale robots enable controlled motion modalities and can operate at half the speed of their body length. They are smaller than fleas and powered by electricity, hydraulic, or complex hardware. The power of these robots lies within their bodies’ elasticity.
Developers of micro-scale robots use a shape-memory alloy material to transform their shape through heating. The researchers heat the robot at different locations using a scanned laser beam. Upon cooling, a thin glass coating was used to return parts of the structure to their deformed shape. The robot creates locomotion as it changes from a deformed to remembered shape.
Through 3D scanning services, the laser could control the robot remotely and determine its walking direction. The robot moved from right to left when scanned from left to right. These micro-scale robots are so tiny, so they cool very fast. Reducing the size of these robots increases their speed.
To develop such tiny robots, the developers turned to a technique discovered eight years ago. A child’s pop-up book inspired this pop-up assembly technique. At first, the team used flat, planar geometrics to fabricate the precursor to the robot’s structure. Then the precursors were attached to a stretched rubber substrate to trigger a controlled buckling process whenever the stretched rubber relaxes. That causes the crab to pop up into three-dimensional forms.
With this technique, robot developers at Northwestern University could develop robots of different sizes and shapes. Their assembling materials and techniques enabled them to build walking robots with almost any 3D shape and size. The crawling motions of tiny crabs stood out among other inventions by the Northwestern team.