One signal controls microrobot swarms

May 2, 2011 | Source: Technology Review
Micro Robots

Controlling a swarm of microbots with a single signal may eventually lead to robots able to build tissues inside the human body (credit: Igor Paprotny / Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth)

A single electrical signal to command a group of microrobots to self-assemble into larger structures has been demonstrated by Researchers at the University of California (Berkeley), Dartmouth College, and Duke University.

The researchers hope to use this method to build biological tissues. They’ve developed a microrobot powered with voltage through an electric array surface.

To control a swarm, the team designed each robot with an arm that reacts differently during portions of the voltage signal. Computer algorithms vary the voltage sequence, prompting the robots to move in complex ways.