SRI International's Speedy, Ant-Sized Microrobot Swarm

Take a look at the speed of these micro-robots, created by SRI International; a swarm of up to 1,000 of the tiny robots can work together on tasks.

(Magnetically Actuate Micro-Robots)

The research powerhouse says the bots can construct lightweight, high-strength structures; handle tiny electrical components; carry out chemistry on a chip; and perform many other manufacturing tasks. Eventually, they expect that the machines, the smallest of which are no thicker than a dime, will even be able to build smaller versions of themselves.

SRI has already demonstrated the ability to make more than 1,000 of the robots work together at once.

“The vision is to have an army of ants under your control,” said Annjoe Wong-Foy, senior research engineer at the Menlo Park, Calif., institute.

He said the scalability and control of the “DiaMagnetic Micro Manipulation” technology far exceeds the demonstrated capabilities of comparable micro-robot systems.

Fans of Philip K. Dick of course remember the autofac from his 1955 short story of the same name.

The bits were in motion. Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something that looked like a tiny rectangle of steel.

"They're building," O'Neill said, awed...

I'd also point out the repair robots from Stanislaw Lem's less well-known 1954 novel The Invincible:

Faint rattling noises came from inside the hull as if swarms of tiny animals were busily scurrying about scratching the metal walls with their sharp little claws. This was the sign that the repair robots had started out on their rounds...

Also, take a look at the metal insects from the same novel.

From re/code via our friends at Frolix_8.

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