Thursday, April 5, 2007

Berkeley Develops Ballistic Jumping Microbots

Researchers at the UC Berkeley have
developed autonomous micro-mechanical robots that can jump 30 times
their height. The microrobots
use solar power to stretch a 9 micron-thick rubber band (the world's
smallest known rubber band!). Releasing the stretched rubber band powers
their ballistic jumping behavior. The 7mm robot can jump over 200mm
high. This flea-like jumping solves two of the major problems that have
microrobots - their inability to move large distances quickly and the
problem of scaling uneven terrain. One obvious use of the jumping microbots
is to load them with sensors and create distributed sensor networks for
military-surveillance. Hundreds or thousands of hopping flea-bots could
be dropped from planes. For more see the UC Berkeley microbots website or the paper by researcher Sara Bergbreiter
titled, Design
of an Autonomous Jumping Microbot (PDF format). This research is
part of the Smart
Dust project which we've reported on before.


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