Magnetic Force Fields Can Control Miniature Robots, Says Purdue University Researchers

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered that magnetic force fields can successfully control as well as power the miniature individual robots. These super robots are each of the sizes of a dust mite and with this new technology, will be able to perform the most complex tasks requiring cooperative behavior easily says David Cappelleri, mechanical engineering professor and head of the research team.

According to researchers, the earlier efforts at controlling and empowering the tiny super robots only were successful in making the little bots move in accordance. However, the new developments will allow researchers to control them individually so that each of them can be assigned various tasks at the same time.

In reports published in Micromachines journal, Cappelleri compares these miniature bots, with ants that move independently despite all of them working together, for example running or lifting things. He says that the aim is to control them in such a way that it would be possible to make these mini robots work on different tasks without being dependent on each other.

Work- factory of miniatures

The Purdue University team developed particular magnetic field systems that are sourced through myriad tiny planar coils in the robots known as a workspace. These coils create localized magnetic fields and guide the robots individually. Earlier, a global field was used so that the bots could move in groups.

The University research indicates that the magnetic fields can serve as a power-source for the robots. Since the miniaturized machines are so small, batteries cannot be ideally used for powering them, which rules out the use of onboard power as an option. The models used for mini-robots are magnetic disks with 2mm diameter almost twice the pinhead size.

But the researchers are confident that this new technology will work efficiently even with machines 0,25mm in diameter or of 250 microns. According to Discovery News reports, if these applications become practically viable, they can be successfully used in production as well as in medicine such as using the mini-bots to diagnose cancer through biopsies and more.