Technolicious : A Team Of Bug Sized Robots Can Move A 3,900lb Car

Marvel of technology : Six-legged tiny bug sized robots can move a whopping  2 ton car

Ants can carry huge weights when they work together, as they are amazingly strong for their size. Taking inspiration from tiny ants, a group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford University have been exploring the confines of friction in the design of tiny robots that have the capability to pull thousands of times their weight.

The researchers had observed that the ants get great cooperative force by each using three of their six legs at the same time. And the result is surprising: a team of six microrobots, each the size of a cockroach and weighing 3.5oz in total, managed to pull a car weighing 3,900lb across a polished concrete floor.

David Christensen, a graduate student who is one of the authors of a research paper explaining the feat, said, “By considering the dynamics of the team, not just the individual, we are able to build a team of our ‘microTug’ robots that, like ants, are super strong individually, but then also work together as a team.” The paper will be presented this May at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm, Sweden.

Christensen added that the demo is the functional equivalent of six humans moving a weight equal to that of the Eiffel Tower and three Statues of Liberty. The implications could be huge: instead of working to build individually stronger robots, we could in its place focus on multiplying their efforts by bringing them back to work together and hasten processes like cargo transport and construction.

Last month, Christensen and Srinivasan Suresh, another graduate student, the researcher Katie Hahm and the mechanical engineering professor Mark Cutkosky published “Let’s All Pull Together: Principles for Sharing Large Loads in Microrobot Teams.”

In a complementary video, they display how the microrobots can do amazing things when they are prudently synchronized.


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