This new aquatic robot is made up of 90% water! What's great about it is that it only needs magnets and light to work.
Northwestern University's scientists and researchers developed the new soft water-based bots, which they claim can walk as fast as humans. The new technology can also squeeze into tight and small spaces.
Researchers also claimed that they can pick up, carry, and put down objects on demand. The new robot has four legs, which resemble an octopus, and measures about 1 cm or 0.4 inches wide.
#Robotics: scientists have built an untethered insect-sized microrobot that runs on methanol. This methanol-powered tiny robot could inspire the development of autonomous microbots capable of terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial locomotion - https://t.co/2MpAlAsvox #Microrobotics pic.twitter.com/qNoXXD4gfd— The Royal Vox Post (@RoyalVoxPost) August 19, 2020
The scientists encased a scaffold of nickel nanowires to create the tiny aquatic machines. They are made mostly of hydrogel and contain specially designed polymer molecules. The combination of the mentioned materials allows the robots to walk through water.
How do these aquatic robots work?
According to Yahoo Finance's latest report, the newly develop bots are so tiny, only around the size of a dime. They also have a yellow color that makes them look like a lemon peel. They can perform various tasks.
These include walking, dancing, and carrying small objects. The robots take in and expel water through their soft components and can work when light and magnetic fields are present in the surrounding.
winnie, bot, #botbotbot Tiny water-based robot is powered by light and can walk, move cargo and even dance https://t.co/fLgCxljL5B via @Winnie229Jiang #bottwittetwitte #Winniebottrail pic.twitter.com/bHVDO0l2l4— Winnie Jiang (@Winnie229Jiang) December 9, 2020
They can do these because of their precise molecular design. When light hits the robot's molecular structure, the molecules would expel water, causing the machine's legs to harden, just like how human muscle works. You can say that these robots can flex.
What makes this water-based robot different?
Tiny robots usually crawl like snails or fly like tiny insects. However, this one is different since it can walk like humans. The scientists also said that the new aquatic bots can cover one human step in one second, just like a human's casual saunter.
"By combining walking and steering motions together, we can program specific sequences of magnetic fields, which remotely operate the robot and direct it to follow paths on flat or inclined surfaces," said Monica Olvera de la Cruz, the project's co-lead author via New Atlas.
"This programmable feature allows us to direct the robot through narrow passages with complex routes," she added.
With all the robot's promising features, there's a high chance that it'll be used in medical purposes. If the researchers and developers can make it smaller, it can deliver drugs into the human body without the need of operations. Who knows what can these tiny aquatic robots can do once they are fully launched.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.