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Smallest Remote-Controlled Walking Robot Crabs

Northwestern University engineers have invented the world’s smallest remote-controlled walking robot, just a half millimeter wide. Could any science fiction writer, however imaginative, conceive of a walking robot no bigger than a grain of sand?


(Remote-controlled walking robot crab)

It took a year and a half to create the miniscule metal creatures, said coauthor John A. Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University.

His team was comprised of students across varying academic levels who combined critical- and creative-thinking skills to design robots that looked like crabs as well as other animals like inchworms and crickets, he said.

Some students found the sideways motion of crabs to be amusing, which was the inspiration behind the crab robot, Rogers said. The tiny robot can also twist, turn and jump, he added.

The robots, which are made of a malleable shape-memory alloy, start out as flat objects, similar to a piece of paper. The legs and arms are bent so the robot can stand, he said. The crab stays standing on its legs until heat is used to get the crab to move, Rogers said.

A metallic object made of shape-memory alloy can be deformed but returns to its original shape once heat is applied to it, he explained.

(Via ImpactLab)

Technovelgy readers recall the scarab robot imagined by Raymond Z. Gallun in 1936. But I'd like to point out the ultra-microrobot from Gallun's 1937 story A Menace in Miniature.


("A robot no bigger than a grain of sand?)

You might want to compare the walking crab robot with the smallest robot in 2007, arguably Pico, that could turn on a dime.


(Pico really can turn on a dime)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/11/2022)

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