Canadian Researchers Build ‘Flying’ Micro-robot (Apr. 11, 2009) — A flying micro-robot has been developed by Canadian researchers that could be used in clean rooms or hazardous environments.

flying-micro-robotThe robot, which weighs about three-hundredths of an ounce, is manipulated by magnetic fields, said a Professor Mir Behrad Khamesee at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

The robot is monitored by the laser sensors and a camera, which create a feedback loop to a computer. When the robot grasps an object, the magnetic field is automatically adjusted so the robot can maintain its position while supporting the weight of the object.

Pincers of the micro-robot can be opened by heating them with a laser, when the laser is turned off, the pincers cool and close.

Lasers are also used to detect the position of the robot, Khamesee said. “There are three sets of laser sensors for detecting the position of the micro-robot in three-dimensional space. The robot is an obstacle for the laser beam in space, and its position can be read.”

“We develop a focal point of a magnetic field in space, which the micro-robot hangs on, and by changing the location of the focal point, the micro-robot is accordingly moved.” Khamesee said.

“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”

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