Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Technology

Flying Micro-Robot Takes Off 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-on-the-wall dept.
AndreV writes "A University of Waterloo in Ontario engineering research team has developed the world's first flying micro-robot capable of manipulating objects for micro-scale applications, which include micro-assembly of mechanical components, handling of biological samples and even microsurgery. It moves around and manipulates objects with micro-grippers, remotely controlled by a laser-focusing beam (heating the pincers with a laser opens them; when the laser is turned off, they cool and close). Its magnetic drive mechanism controls the field using continuous feedback from positioning sensors in order to position the 'bot. 'It can enter virtually any space and can be operated in a sealed enclosure by a person outside,' the project leaders says, 'which makes it useful for handling bio-hazardous materials or working in vacuum chambers and clean rooms.' The video of the contraption shows it floating in mid-air."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Flying Micro-Robot Takes Off

Comments Filter:
  • video... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aicrules (819392)
    Video shows almost unrecognizable piece of tinfoil moving up and down a little with part of it always conveniently enough off camera to make you wonder if it was really floating at all....
  • How's that thing supposed to work with all that tinfoil?
  • Flying? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ramk13 (570633) on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:35PM (#27560399)

    This thing doesn't really fly... It's a magnet that's levitating by using a complex, computer controlled magnetic field. I'm not sure how the robot can go into 'virtually any space' because you need to have a bunch of equipment to go along with it, and the equipment has to be nearby.

    • Re:Flying? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot&gmail,com> on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:44PM (#27560607) Homepage Journal

      I was wondering how the hell it "flew" in a vacuum.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jbeaupre (752124)
      So you're saying it won't work in my iron filing factory?
    • Re:Flying? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gat0r30y (957941) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:01PM (#27560941) Homepage Journal

      Since the power is supplied externally, the robot does not carry a power source or a controller, which enhances its maneuverability.

      How can they call this thing a robot, if it has no power source or controller? It would appear to me to be a magnet, with some grippers applied.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by davolfman (1245316)
        Because most journalists look at you funny if you call it a wireless waldo.
      • Pretty damn close.

        I think the larger, horizontally placed block is a magnet that reacts against a perpendicularly placed magnetic field, to provide z-axis support, while the tinfoil looking thing is another magnet to act against one or more magnetic fields to provide x-y axis propulsion/repulsion.

        The gripper is simply a rigid structure with a target(the little round thing) that is heated by a laser(located elsewhere, NOT on the robot) that expands and forces apart the "fingers" of the gripper(the pointy par

    • Re:Flying? (Score:5, Funny)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:51PM (#27561811)
      the world's first flying micro-robot capable of manipulating objects for micro-scale applications, which include ... microsurgery.

      Congratulations University of Waterloo, you get the award for the most sensationalist spin ever given to a magnetically levitated piece of metal. In other news, following this success, all makers of levitating pen novelty toys are rebranding their products as "flying pen assassin robots" (ninja not included).
  • Update (Score:3, Funny)

    by alexj33 (968322) on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:36PM (#27560407)
    Should change the text to:

    "It moves around and manipulates objects with laser-powered micro-grippers, which includes (when millions work in unison) HUMAN HEADS!!"

    Well, I bet they'd get more funding if they worded it that way, anyway.
    • So much for assassination via this method... But, then, in controlled environments, it's easier to trick the targets to enter an elevator and magnet-fry them there. Otherwise, use dart guns.

      Reminds me of when, in ~ 1976/77 when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. I asked the nun what would happen if someone one put a person in a room surrounded by huge or powerful magnets. She said, "Nothing." I disagreed with her. I guess i was diametrically opposed to her response, but i suppose she didn't want me growing up b

  • levitation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by purpleque (948533) on Monday April 13, 2009 @02:39PM (#27560489)
    I guess technically it is "flying" but that just makes me think it had some sort of wings or a little bity rocket pack, etc...

    I think a better description would have been levitating.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why? Is flying only the correct term to use when it's the result of some crazy rocket propulsion or flight locomotion?

      I think not.

      • by purpleque (948533)
        I thought not as well. That is why i said technically it is flying. Well, because technically by definition it is flying.

        But you don't hear people talk about maglevs that fly down the track (unless they are referring to its speed) or a railgun flying its projectile down the barrel. When you hear "fly" related to anything it is usually something with wings (living and non-living), jets, rockets, propellers, rotors, a ballistic arc, or a chemically induced euphoria. Not something being levitated or prop
  • developed the world's first flying micro-robot capable of manipulating objects for micro-scale applications, which include micro-assembly of mechanical components, handling of biological samples and even microsurgery.

    We get it, it's small, you can stop saying micro now.

  • If it is able to fly by magnetic lift, then this is nont a technology worthy of easy field application.
    unless; you feel like carrying around a magnetic carpet. it seems they require a pre-installed infrastructure of repulsive material...

    just wait until we teach them how to build themselves.....
    *by your command*

  • I for one welcome our Flying Micro-robot overlords.
  • I'm holding out for the Borg nanoprobes... then things will get really interesting!
  • Behold... (Score:4, Funny)

    by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:01PM (#27560935)

    I have posted the first micro-comment capable of delivering micro-information over the micro-Internet at micro-speeds.

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:04PM (#27560999)

    i was reading the summary and couldnt help but think that it needed more micro so in a pro micro display i have used the word micro a lot here and have forsaken punctuation and capitalization in an effort to make things look more micro because i really felt the summary didnt use the word micro enough to describe this micro robot

  • from TFA: "The drive controls the genetic field using continuous feedback from positioning sensors in order to position the â(TM)bot."
  • Lies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EkriirkE (1075937) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:15PM (#27561223) Homepage
    It is levitating, not flying. The 'pincers' are likely just bimetal springs or that glob in the center expands with heat to spread the pincers.

    Composition: 2 magnets polarized vertical and horizontal each and heat-expansive rods as "pincers" and what looks like scotch tape holding the pincers to the lower magnet.
    • by node 3 (115640)

      It is levitating, not flying.

      If it moves through the air, controllably, it's flying. If it just moves up and down (like a magnet), it's just levitating. Sounds like this thing flies.

      Before you come back with some engineering case against it being called flying, remember aerodynamic powered flying is a *subset* of flying.

      The 'pincers' are likely just bimetal springs or that glob in the center expands with heat to spread the pincers.

      In other words, the pincers are just pincers?

      • by timeOday (582209)

        If it moves through the air, controllably, it's flying.

        Bullets aren't controllable, but people say "bullets were flying on the battlefield" and such.

  • look forward to our tin-foil hat removing microbot-equipped overlords and, as yet another act of shameless brown-nosing, remind them to prohibit the creation of micro-sized bug zappers, lest they suddenly find themselves without the weapons necessary to maintain good order and dicipline in the new world order

  • Some people! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:20PM (#27561325) Journal
    I guess University researchers can be as desperate for attention as anybody else can be. They're right on the bleeding edge of misrepresenting what this thing does. It's not really "flying", it's not really a "robot", either. I think this is more suitable for YouTube than Slashdot or any other (pseudo)news-source.
  • by jw3 (99683) on Monday April 13, 2009 @03:45PM (#27561721) Homepage
    In a 1964 novel called "The Invincible" [wikipedia.org], Stanisaw Lem [wikipedia.org] (author of Solaris [imdb.com]) described an evolution of robots ("necroevolution"). The final outcome of the process is a symbiosis between plant-like forms that can source solar energy and relatively simple, highly mobile microbots that are capable to form complex clouds.
    Depending on the quantity of microbots that go into such cloud, the cloud can be capable of highly complex and spectacular actions (no pretence of AI, though; pure, hard SF). As the microbots are replaceable, fighting such clouds is like fighting against a shadow.
    Sorry, felt like mentioning this :-)
    j.
  • by hldn (1085833)

    i'm sure i wasn't alone in thinking this thing needs a tiny camera stuck on it for uhhh.. certain purposes.

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Monday April 13, 2009 @04:22PM (#27562351)

    It is a remote extension of the operator, not running it's own program.

  • This has long been used in humans. Either a magnetic robot flies in the bodily fluids or magnets are used to move an instrument in the body. Who knows what a flying magnet in air would manipulate, since it's in air.

  • It's a robot.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ChayD (1522831)
    ...in the very loosest sense of the word. I was kinda expecting something with wings or a propeller, its own power source and control systems, not magnetic levitating tweezers. Although kudos for it's diminutive size.
  • That the "scientist" is holding and is stuck into the off-camera side of the "robot". I can make all sorts of stuff "fly" this way.

    --josh

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito

Working...